The European Union’s ‘missions’ in Horizon Europe mark a new way of working in EU Research and Innovation Policy. They are in essence large-scale R&D+I programmes with very specific objectives: increase the impact of support in a critical policy field, reinforcing the European Union relationship with its citizens.
‘Mission orientated innovation’ or rather the European Union’s ‘missions’ in Horizon Europe mark a new way of working in EU Research and Innovation Policy. They are in essence large-scale R&D+I programmes with very specific objectives. This novelty in Research and Innovation policy aims to increase the impact of support in a critical policy field, reinforcing the European Union relationship with its citizens. By focusing in on key societal challenges Horizon Europe’s missions will a new systemic policy or collection of policies pursuing very specific goals defined as ‘big problems’. There is a clear indication that some of the ‘big problems’ of today’s world, societal and scientific, will be addressed such as tackling cancer, achieving climate neutral and smart cities; and adapting to climate change with and for society.
This new direction of the European Union Research and Innovation targeted firmly towards pressing global challenges originates from Pascal Lamy, former European Commission Head of Cabinet (Delors Commission). Lamy’s recommendations were crystallised by the London School of Economics economist Mariana Mazzucato, with her 2018 report entitled: ‘Mission-Oriented Research & Innovation in the European Union.’ Taking inspiration from the United States contribution to the Space Race of the 1960s, the Missions approach of Horizon Europe is set in clear terms and by guiding principles: societally relevant, tailored to the challenge, wide in scope for citizen engagement and focused to make a real difference, objective orientated, delivery focused, and time sensitive.
Missions have an important role to play in pushing forward the European Union in a global, world-wide context. Their fundamental characteristics – open science and good governance, will be a model in scientific governance at global level. Beyond being a model of scientific governance, missions have the strong potential to make a difference in the real world and day-to-day life of citizens of the European Union and as well as all other countries. Take for example, the mission dedicated to the eradication of cancer. In this field, progress can only be achieved through the achievement of critical mass and the breaking of scientific and societal boundaries which separate researchers and policymakers alike. Missions accept the reality that it is no longer solely a question for the scientist or oncologist; the inclusion of other relevant experts is crucial. Therefore, the mission in this field will go beyond the oncologist to include nutritionists; economists, and patients.
Regions and regional development practitioners also have the opportunity contribute to the missions-orientated research and innovation policy by applying to the European Commission’s recent call for expression of interest. This call seeks to find members for the five boards managing and designing the missions for Horizon Europe. The boards will compose of 15 members for each of the five mission areas so far selected.
It is this widening of the field of contributors in Research and Innovation policy which presents an opportunity for experts from across the European Union to give their time and effort to something big and bigger than the EU.
Additional Reading and Information:
– ‘Mission-oriented Research & Innovation in the European Union’ (Mazzucato, 2018)