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UK National Institutes of Bioscience voice concerns about H2020 cuts

The National Institutes of Bioscience (NIB) of the United Kingdom urge the European Parliament and Member States to safeguard the Horizon 2020 budget from the proposed diversion of funds to a European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI).

The economic and societal arguments for funding Horizon 2020 at its present level were agreed upon, and welcomed in 2012. At present, Horizon 2020 is the EU’s most important source funding for basic research and innovation.

Jean-Claude Juncker’s proposal to shift €2.7 billion over 5.5 years from the Horizon 2020 budget to create a EFSI threatens existing research programmes and highlights a worrying lack of commitment to long-term, investigator-led, basic research funding.

The NIB recognise the importance of stimulating economic growth and driving innovation in the EU, but an effective basic research funding system that creates and develops scientific excellence and expertise is key to attracting private partnerships and investment. Diverting funds from Horizon2020 would damage these goals.  Indeed, independent assessments of the economic impact of research in the NIB indicate that there is at least a 12-fold multiplier on the return on investment in research.  The objectives of the proposed EFSI are already clearly addressed by Horizon 2020.

Horizon2020 is already driving scientific breakthroughs and addressing key EU Societal challenges including an Ageing Population, Climate Change, Food and Energy Security.  Compromising its programmes will undoubtedly have a negative impact on future development.  Basic research programmes directed towards public good are not, and will not be compensated by private investment and will not be met by EFSI.  There is a clear need to articulate the objectives, activities and mechanisms of the EFSI, as their success will in many cases depend on existing Horizon 2020 programmes.

Horizon2020 represents an investment in Europe’s future growth and prosperity, an opportunity for scientists to propose and justify new research areas. The EC is often criticised for being over prescriptive, due to the high number of “top-down” schemes and this proposal will tip the balance even more in that direction.

Excellence in research should be a top priority for the EU and therefore, the NIB strongly advocates protection of the Horizon2020 budget.

Signatories:

  • David Hume Chair of the UK National Institutes of Bioscience and Director of The Roslin Institute
  • Dale Sanders Director of the John Innes Centre
  • Michael Wakelam Director of the Babraham Institute
  • John Fazakerley Director of the Pirbright Institute
  • Richard Mithen Interim Director of the Institute of Food Research
  • Mario Caccamo Director of The Genome Analysis Centre
  • Mike Gooding Director of the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences
  • Achim Dobermann Director of Rothamsted Research