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Contact: Katie Steels
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

European Commission must innovate to get value from €70 billion science funding program

The European Commission needs to make some key innovations in its science funding programme if Europe is to enjoy the full benefits of the €70 billion to be spent on science research as part of the Horizon 2020 programme kicking off in 2014, according to an academic paper published by SAGE in the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy today.

The Commission has already taken important steps to reduce administration costs and stimulate the participation of small business in research, but there are still significant gaps, say the authors of Europe's 'Horizon 2020' science funding programme: How is it shaping up? Dr Michael Galsworthy, UCL Department of Applied Research and Professor Martin McKee, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, argue that reforms are necessary in four key areas -reduction of red tape at the interface between academia and small business, better mapping and linking of the research funded, taking a bold lead in the open data drive, and ending inegalitarian salary policies that block Eastern European competitiveness.

Over the last 15 years, the EU has spent around €80 billion on science research via its three 'framework programmes', FP5, FP6 and FP7, and Horizon 2020 will nearly match that sum over the next six years. While past programmes were intended to ease the path of European researchers to funding and support, the bureaucracy involved was cumbersome and hard to negotiate; the paper highlights the thousands of researchers who relocated to the US, in part to escape such constraints. The paper recommends reform in four key areas:

Dr Galsworthy says: "After many years of often painful and bureaucratic development, the EU science model of international collaboration and researcher mobility is clearly starting to work. Science is now increasingly viewed as a cornerstone of Europe's future as an integral part of quality of life, sustainability and business innovation. In preparation for Horizon 2020, some solid steps have been made on levels of both practicality and vision, but a few key innovative changes at the central administration level would revolutionise the dynamism and productivity of European science."


Notes for Editors

1. Europe's 'Horizon 2020' science funding programme: how is it shaping up? is published online in the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy http://jhsrp.rsmjournals.com/. Copies of the paper are available from UCL Media Relations. The article will be freely available for a limited period here.

2. More details on the Horizon 2020 programme can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020/index_en.cfm?pg=home&video=none

3. All media enquiries should be addressed to Dominique Fourniol in the UCL media relations office at 0207 679 9728 d.fourniol@ucl.ac.uk.

About UCL (University College London)

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world's top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has 24,000 students from almost 140 countries, and more than 9,500 employees. Our annual income is over £800 million. http://www.ucl.ac.uk | Follow us on Twitter @uclnews

About the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is a world-leading centre for research and postgraduate education in public and global health, with 3,500 students and more than 1,000 staff working in over 100 countries. The School is one of the highest-rated research institutions in the UK, and was recently cited as one of the world's top universities for collaborative research. The School's mission is to improve health and health equity in the UK and worldwide; working in partnership to achieve excellence in public and global health research, education and translation of knowledge into policy and practice. http://www.lshtm.ac.uk

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