At the mid-way point of Horizon 2020, the EU’s biggest ever science programme, researchers are feeling largely positive but want to see some fundamental changes, not least an increase in the success rate for grant applications.
296 public submissions were uploaded to the Commission website, which reflect the programme’s achievements and its problems. These submissions are to form evidence intended to inform the formal review of Horizon 2020, due to be published this year.
Some of the positive remarks state that Horizon 2020 is making a significant contribution to European research, innovation and job creation and its budget must be protected moving forward and “the best framework programme yet.”
However, there are also many submissions showing a certain frustration with the long odds of winning a Horizon 2020 grant mentioned in nearly all submissions.
The submissions also suggest a range of measures to tackle the problem, including more precise texts in the various calls for grant applications; fewer calls; greater use of two-stage evaluation of the calls; further restrictions on re-submitting applications; and greater encouragement for researchers to self-assess before submission.
Rich countries still pick up most grants
Commentators note that geographical concentration of funding remains a divisive issue. Five countries receive an estimated two thirds of Horizon 2020 grants. Central and Eastern European countries receive just over 4 per cent of total funding.
Horizon 2020 not as attractive for outsiders
Another complaint appears to be the fact that international participation in Horizon 2020 is slow and needs to pick up, according to a number of submissions, with the German government saying, “Horizon 2020 has become significantly less attractive for research players from outside Europe.”
European Innovation Council
There are also many opinions on the new European Innovation Council (EIC), which is due to launch a pilot later this year. Whereas most commentators are positive about the EIC, not everyone welcomes it. Some commentators don’t appreciate new surprises during an on-going framework programme, while the budget and direction are already established, decided and agreed upon, and especially when the budget for Horizon 2020 has already been whittled down twice.
Overall, the verdict is positive, but in need of several big mid-course adjustments. Low success rates, lengthy proposals and lack of feedback are common complaints.Further information can be found here