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Inria Preliminary position on FP9

As a major player in Europe's research ecosystem, Inria considered important to clarify its expectations with regard to FP9, the future framework programme to succeed H2020. The institute has therefore forwarded its proposals to the European Commission "to provide food for thought during the active phase of drawing up the next framework programme for research and innovation ".

Over the last 15 years, the European framework programmes for research and innovation have had a considerable positive impact on an organization like Inria, thanks to their capacity to stimulate collaboration with European partners within a stable, long-term and commonly accepted framework under reasonable funding conditions. These programmes help to strengthen the relations between the European research and innovation communities and the relevant industrial and societal stakeholders..

The place of digital sciences and the need to encourage long-term projects, the importance of collaborative research, ERC, project evaluation criteria, budget... These are the themes of Inria's recommendations concerning the future FP9.

FP9 around major societal challenges

With Horizon 2020, the European Commission devotes a significant part of its budget to multidisciplinary projects addressing major societal challenges. In our fields, we warn against two side effects. The first is the risk of digital dilution. Digital is everywhere, but it is important to keep in mind the role of upstream research in this field, and the consequences and results of this work on other fields. We therefore believe it is essential that research should also be carried out on digital technologies and that sufficient support should continue to be given at European level. Furthermore, encouraging projects with defined socio-economic impacts at the origin of the projects discourages a long-term vision.

An ERC programme to support

By selecting the best scientists and research projects on the basis of healthy competition, the ERC has become a flagship programme for the European R&D ecosystem. To maintain this success, the ERC must be provided with the necessary resources to develop its ambitions and ensure an acceptable success rate (around 15 %). Priority in terms of budget allocation should be given to individual grants.

Encourage symbiotic relations between academia and EU industry

In digital sciences, it is essential to justify and validate scientific theory and progress by using realistic and tangible platforms and data. To this end, collaborative research with industrial partners must remain an essential feature of the European framework programmes. But we would like to see programmes that allow risk-taking, which would support ambitious long-term research. When guided by industry, collaborative research is often part of roadmaps to support technology deployment in given sectors with high levels of technological maturity. However, our researchers have more difficulty positioning themselves on this type of program.

Review evaluation criteria

In the current evaluation of research projects, one of the main criteria remains the socio-economic impact, which is multidimensional, rather complex, and particularly difficult to measure, especially within the limited time frame of a project or programme. It also encourages shorter-term research, especially since it is easier to formulate a business plan when you are close to the market. The notion of impact taken into account for evaluation should be broader and include, for example, impact in the scientific field, the opening of new research avenues, but also take into account different time scales.

Keywords: Framework Programme FP9 H2020 ERC