What I learned at EARMA 2019

  1. Keynote on Horizon Europe

After a general introduction and opening by the rector of the University of Bologna, the EARMA conference kicked off with a keynote by Peter Haertwich, European Commission (DG RTD) on Horizon Europe.[1]

  • The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers had found agreement on most of the content of Horizon Europe[2]; however, the budget is still to be decided on in the context of the EU’s multiannual financial framework.
  • The section on international cooperation has also been “bracketed”, that is, not yet decided on.
  • It is likely that the budget for sharing excellence (the former “widening” programme) will be more than tripled, due to pressure from the EU-13.
  • The simplification “drive” will also continue, building on the H2020 lump sum pilot experience.
  • Synergies will also be increased with the other EU funding programmes, most notably Interreg but also other policies.
  • The Strategic planning process to define the work programmes will be more transparent and involve stakeholders
  1. Proposal Intelligence – How to support researchers in writing the impact of Horizon 2020 proposals

Sean McCarthy and Sylvia Mc Carthy presented the “proposal intelligence approach”:

  • The work programme translate strategic EU goals (set by politicians) into projects, through the interplay of the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council
  • However, for researchers how the work programmes are being set up is often not apparent.
  • In proposals, the impact section in particular is a political concept to demonstrate “value for money”. Researchers should not write impact.
  • Very important in this context are the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Example of a project on migration. The call text will be influenced by:
    • Justice and Home Affairs Council, COREPER II Working Party on Integration, Migration and Expulsion, Working Party on Migration
    • European Parliament LIBE, AFET, DEVE and EMPL Committees
    • DG HIME, DG DEVO
    • EU Agencies: EASO, Eurofound, Europol, FRA
  • Non-scientists can provide input on
    • Content:
      • review of text, clarity and style
      • Impact
    • Rules on
      • Eligibility
      • Templates
    • The Commission funds proposals but plans programmes
    • Horizon Europe
      • Impact will stay
      • Who will define missions and partnerships
    • Information Sources
      • Research professional
      • Science Businesses
      • Events and info days (EU, national)
    • Distinguish participation as a coordinator from participation as a partner
  1. From Tech to Societal: Readiness Level Assessment, impact and indicators

 

The concept of technology readiness level (TRL)[3] was invented by NASA, heavily used by the US Department of Defence and is widespread in Horizon 2020 (in particular industry related calls). It has both pros and cons:

TRL pros and cons

PRO CON

 

Common denominator for funding agencies as well as technologists, industry and researchers

 

Mainly applicable to technology oriented projects
Facilitates decision making for technology funding and technology transition

 

Difficult to transfer between sectors
Could be useful for risk management Ranks individual technologies but is limited on system integration

 

May not adequately consider market demands and societal consideration

 

 

To address the “cons” other readiness levels have been developed, e.g. commercial readiness levels or societal readiness levels.[4]

  1. Participation of the Global South in Horizon 2020
  • Most of the so-called “Global South”[5] countries are automatically eligible for funding (developing countries as listed in Annex A of the H2020 Work Programme) but some industrial countries or emerging economies are not (China, Brazil), although there are sometimes dedicated calls for cooperation with them.
  • The biggest beneficiaries by region are:
    • Asia: Jourdan, China, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Nepal
    • Africa: South Africa, Sierra Leone, Kenia, Tunisia, Tanzania, Uganda
    • South America and the Caribbean: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Uruguay, Peru
  1. The Project Management Methodology on the European Commission

Nicolas Kourounakis presented PM2[6], the project management methodology originally developed in house by the ‘European Commission but now available freely for everyone to use.[7] The purpose of PM2 is to enable project teams to manage projects in an effective and efficient manner for the purpose of delivering solutions and benefits to their organisations and stakeholders. The PM2 Methodology is built on Project Management best practices and is supported by four pillars.

PM2 was opened up and introduced at the Open Pm2 2018 Conference[8] and is intended as a common & open methodology for Europe. Its use is, however, by no means mandatory.

The PM2 alliance is currently developing certification but this will be provided on a cost bassis and not as a “cash cow”, as in other project management methodologies.

[1] Following a generic template available at https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/horizon-europe-presentation_2018_en.pdf

[2] See https://sciencebusiness.net/framework-programmes/news/eu-council-and-parliament-strike-deal-horizon-research-programme

[3] See https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/wp/2014_2015/annexes/h2020-wp1415-annex-g-trl_en.pdf

[4] Inter alia in the RRI context (WP6 of the new HoRRIzon project)

[5] The term „Global South“ proofed tob e probelamtic in the discussion.

[6] pronounced “P-M squared”

[7] See https://www.pm2alliance.eu/  and https://www.pm2alliance.eu/publications/ and https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/0e3b4e84-b6cc-11e6-9e3c-01aa75ed71a1/language-en

[8] https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/event/open-pm2-conference-2018