6. Introduce a Single Information Single Audit system for all types of ERA instruments.

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1 Date December 2010 Position Paper Recommendations for the Eighth Framework Programme Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) The Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP) of the European Commission is of great importance. It is a key instrument to realize the much needed European Research Area. The fourteen research universities of the Netherlands, represented by the VSNU, would like to express their support for the actions of the European Commission to stimulate international research collaboration, to form cross-border private-public partnerships, to enhance excellence in both basic and applied science and to stimulate the mobility of researchers. The Dutch research universities welcome the timely start of the consultation round and embrace the opportunity that the Commission is offering to express their viewpoints. The Framework Programmes are focused on realising clear ambitions such as creating a dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs, greater social cohesion and respect for the environment. Universities play a key role in realising these ambitions as they bring together education, research and innovation. In order to achieve the ambitious goals that have been set, structural investments in research and innovation are much needed. We fully support the Commission s goal to invest at least three percent of the GDP in research and innovation. The Framework Programme provides researchers and institutions with the incentives to reach for higher levels of excellence and relevance, both scientific and societal as they are built upon two main criteria, being firstly excellence, as in striving to be world leading in ones scientific area, and secondly, impact, as in expanding scientific knowledge and achieving scientific breakthroughs and the effective dissemination and application of research results. The previous Framework Programmes provide a sound and well balanced structure upon which the Eighth edition can be built. However, changes must be made to meet the challenges of the present and the future. In the Europe 2020 strategy, areas in which Europe should invest have been identified, with knowledge and innovation at the heart. In the development of each priority (smart, sustainable and inclusive growth) scientific breakthroughs are much needed. The research universities stand ready to play a central role in the process of shaping the Europe of the next decade. The European Research Area is an important instrument for the further development of science and innovation as it will create an environment in which frontier research thrives.

2 As stated above, universities play a key role in achieving goals set in the EU 2020 strategy and in the Innovation Union document. The Dutch research universities are keen on participating in the process of transforming Europe into a world leading science area that is able to remove obstacles that prevent innovation. In this respect the Dutch universities welcome the attention that the Commission is giving to aspects such as intellectual property, access to finance, innovative public procurement and research infrastructural investments. The broad definition of innovation is in agreement with the ideas on innovation of the Dutch universities. In respect to the focus on smart specialization in regions the Dutch universities would like to stress the fact that universities need a much broader focus than one that only includes their own specific region. The Dutch research universities would like to call on the Commission to join together regional, national and European policies as far as possible. The recommendations of the VSNU for FP8 in short: 1. Maintain the successful key elements of FP7 in FP8 and aim for a gradual and smooth transition towards a Framework Programme that is focused on the Grand Challenges. New funding instruments may be useful but the Commission needs to focus on creating synergy between the various instruments. 2. Strengthen the ERC to reinforce frontier science and include the entire chain from research idea to the application of results in the funding instruments for collaborative & individual research projects. 3. Join the Grand Societal Challenges to the European Research Area by means of a matrix model. Combining efforts by striving for a better integration of various European programmes and instruments (FP, EIT, Joint Programming, Funds for infrastructure etc.) to gain extra effectiveness is necessary. 4. Facilitate training and mobility of excellent researchers in all stages of their career as Europe will benefit most from scientists (both junior and more senior) who are allowed to develop and grow continuously. 5. Keep excellence and impact (on science, technology and society) as main selection criteria in FP8. For the ERC in particular, scientific excellence should be the leading principle. 6. Introduce a Single Information Single Audit system for all types of ERA instruments. 7. Implement a full costing based subsidy system to support fully financial responsible and sustainable universities. 2

3 Recommendations of the Dutch research universities 1. Maintain the successful key elements of FP7 in FP8 and aim for a gradual and smooth transition towards a Framework Programme that is focused on the Grand Challenges As the mid-term review of FP7 has emphasized, continuity is a key element in desiging the European research programmes. Aiming for a smooth transition from FP 7 to FP8 should be a priority when developing the new Framework Programme. Although many new developments have taken place since the implementation of FP7, the research universities in the Netherlands believe there are many reasons to strive for continuity in the next Framework Programme. The first and foremost reason to strive for continuity is the apparent success of the Framework Programme. The international linkages and cooperation between researchers of all disciplines and between academia and industry have increased enormously. Many large-scale European projects have been established and have effectively stimulated the competitiveness of both industry and research institutions. We may well conclude that the EU FP s have greatly influenced the way and the extend in which research institutions and innovative industry have developed international activities. The complexity of the rules and regulations of the Framework Programme provides us with a second reason for continuity. Management of European programmes has proved to be challenging for many institutions and companies. As the midterm review has shown, a quantum leap in simplifying the rules of the programme modalities is much needed. Still, the European Commission faces the challenging task of gradually refocusing FP7 and its instruments towards the priorities of Europe The Dutch universities believe that a Framework Programme architecture and instruments should be developed which focuses on finding solutions for the grand societal challenges. The clear focus on research and innovation as well as the link that is made with the grand societal challenges require a serious modernisation of current research infrastructures. For example, there will be a growing need for multidisciplinary research both thematically and bottom-up oriented. A good balance should be created between directed (top-down, impact-driven) and non-directed (bottom-up, science driven) research. This modernization will also raise the question of possible new instruments and funding schemes. The Dutch research universities believe that FP8 should concentrate on a distinct number of funding schemes. New schemes should only be introduced if there is an added value for realising the EU2020 agenda. Furthermore, a users committee must judge positively before a new instrument is implemented. 3

4 Case: Future and Emerging Technologies Open Scheme Current philosophy behind the FET Open scheme is seen as a valuable way to allow for theme based groundbreaking research ideas: a simple procedure, a bottom-up approach, a relative small scale, and a healthy balance between research institutes and industry. Such a type of exploratory mechanism could be of value in scanning the multidisciplinary potential within most themes and challenges. 2. Strengthen the ERC to reinforce science for science and include the entire chain from research idea to the application of results in the funding instruments for collaborative & individual research projects The universities in the Netherlands fully agree with the statement of the president of the ERC in March 2010 in which she stresses the importance of frontier research for innovation. Supporting excellent scientists who carry out curiosity driven research is an absolute necessity for Europe as it is the most effective method for generating ideas that will contribute to tackling the Grand Challenges that we face and that we will face in the future (see also the matrix model for inclusion of the Grand Challenges in the ERA). The Dutch research universities therefore call on the Commission to increase the ERC s budget where possible. However, this increase should not be at the cost of other parts of the Framework Programme s budget such as the budget for infrastructure. The Dutch universities would like to express their confidence in the selection procedures that have been set up within the ERC. Only scientists of exemplary quality who perform ground breaking research should be funded through ERC funding instruments. With respect to the panel structure used, the Dutch universities believe that this structure should be continuously updated with and mirrored by the latest developments in science. Certain science disciplines and cross-discipline fields (e.g. engineering, design and green life sciences) need to pass through the review process while taking into account their particular characteristics. To benefit fully from research results obtained in the ERC domain, funding instruments, like collaborative research, should cover the broad range from frontier science to the implementation of curiosity driven research to societal/economic benefits. To fully exploit the knowledge developed and to accelerate the path from research to innovation, we need a more efficient framework for the transfer of results into marketable products and services. The Dutch research universities are convinced that a clear focus is needed for new developments and promising visionary ideas in a multidisciplinary environment with a horizontal approach within a European network connected to the Grand Societal Challenges and beyond (see the matrix model). The Dutch universities suggest to investigate if results from FP projects that are more or less completed could be more rapidly utilised via a follow-up innovation - grant programme under for instance the future CIP or Structural Funds of the EU. Such an Innovation Grant scheme could be an entrepreneurial type of grant to individual researchers to develop innovative companies based on knowledge developed by consortia in the Framework Programme. 4

5 Case: Valorisation Grants - Technologiestichting STW in the Netherlands The STW Valorisation Grant is an individual grant to entrepreneurial researchers to develop an innovative high-tech business / business activities based upon knowledge developed within the university and research institute. Valorisation Grant is inspired by the U.S. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The research universities in the Netherlands welcome the plans of the ERC to provide grant holders with the option to apply for additional funding to explore the potential for innovation These will enable grant holders to finance activities such as technical validation, market research, clarifying IPR position/strategy and investigating business opportunities. The potential for innovation should however not be used as a criterion for selection within the ERC. 3. Incorporate the Grand Societal Challenges into the European Research Area by means of a matrix model. The Europe 2020 Strategy, issued by the European Commission in March 2010, is an ambitious, transformational agenda, designed to turn Europe into a smart, sustainable and socially-inclusive market economy. The Dutch universities believe that only through innovation Europe can build a long-term sustainable economy, guarantee an economically stable future and foster competiveness of Europe s industry. Universities play a central role in reaching the objectives that have been laid out by the Commission. In order to enhance the chance for success the universities in the Netherlands believe that the Grand Societal Challenges should be integrated into the European Research Area as much as possible. A strong focus on a selected number of Grand Challenges will create strong linkages between the various thematic instruments, stimulating multidisciplinary research programmes and creating a natural context for research results to be applied in practice. Furthermore, an greater coherence and more effective impact of the results of the Franework Programme will provide a solid basis for legitimizing the investments made by the European Commission. Though the benefits of research and innovation are experienced by every European citizen in almost all aspects of daily life, our institutions continue to face a challenging task in legitimizing the investments made. Also here a focus on the Grand Challenges will provide a natural setting to do so. Together with close ties between thematic instruments, a focus on Grand Challenges will also create much needed closer links with other union policies and instruments (e.g. JPI, CIP, EIT and the Structural Funds). This will allow for a greater and more effective impact of the European programmes on innovation, stability and economy. 5

6 A possible model for such an integration is a matrix model in the Grand Societal Challenges which can be joined firmly to the various research structures within Europe. This model allows for incorporating opportunities for technical competition and societal challenges in Joint Calls. The Dutch research universities welcome possibilities for Joint Programming Initiatives and Joint Calls as these programmes provide the opportunities for genuine multidisciplinary approaches and enhance the impact on European science and society. An important and groundbreaking aspect of the Innovation Union will be European innovation partnerships in which each partnership is focused on a specific issue that is highly relevant for tackling the Grand Societal Challenges. This initiative is supported strongly by the Dutch universities as these partnerships will provide a framework for pooling resources and bringing together key actors, European and national, public and private. This will lead to the development of a strong and well equipped European research infrastructure which will attract much needed talented researchers from outside Europe and may help to retain young researchers within Europe. Regional policy and design 'smart specialisation strategies' could be extremely helpful in realizing a sound research infrastructure. The universities in the Netherlands furthermore fully agree with the proposed streamlining and simplification of existing instruments and initiatives (e.g. Joint Programming of national research efforts, Joint Technology Initiatives). The streamlining of international research cooperation, started in FP6, has created new partnerships with global actors, in accordance with the objectives of ERA / FP7. 6

7 4. Facilitate training and mobility of excellent researchers at all stages of their career 1 Research training and mobility are vital components of research practise and should be stimulated throughout the entire researchers career. Training, mobility and career development stimulation of researchers should be at the heart of the European Research Area. The mobility and career enhancement programme (currently the Marie Curie Actions, People) should therefore not only focus on training and research career development for junior researchers but also on training and research career development for scientists of a more senior level. Ideally this includes research sabbaticals, or exchange periods at companies or public institutions. Scientist with a broad view and experience in private and public research are at the heart of the innovation society and are much needed to tackle thegrand Societal Challenges as they bridge frontier science with the more applied scientific area. The administration of the Marie Curie programme has been moved from the DG research to DG Education and Culture. We support the coherence that is sought between Marie Curie and other mobility schemes of the European Commission, such as the Lifelong Learning Programme and Erasmus Mundus. However we strongly recommend to keep the schemes separated, as they address different objectives. In our view it is better to secure strong ties between the training of young researchers and the research programmes financed by the Framework Programme. The Dutch universities call on the Commission to support the development and implementation of state of the art and cost efficient training methods. Virtual staff training; sharing PhD courses via e-learning; digital coaching; and open course ware for students are smart solutions for setting up training and education schemes of excellent quality, allowing large numbers of students of various countries to participate at a relatively low cost. In order to attract and stimulate the most talented researchers from around the world, the European Commission could support Joint Graduate Programmes (or European Graduate Schools). The Dutch research universities believe these programmes could significantly contribute to the realization of the European Modernizing Universities Agenda. Joint graduate programmes are characterized by their clear scientific mission and high societal relevance, excellent scientific leadership, sufficient critical mass of highly talented young researchers, attractive and shared state of the art research infrastructures and strong interaction with business and industry. Such programmes will play a crucial role in training new generations of researchers. 1 Further details are available in the VSNU position paper on Future European initiatives in Mobility, Education and Training 7

8 Case: Graduate schools in the Netherlands From the early 1990s onwards, the universities in the Netherlands have been investing substantially in the development of training schemes for PhD students. Research schools with several participating universities have been set up along various research themes creating focus and mass which allows for both in depth and comprehensive training of PhD students. In recent years, the Dutch research universities have established graduate schools in order to facilitate continuous learning paths from bachelor to PhD. These graduate schools bring together both master- and PhD programmes within the university. Through the existing research schools, the PhD-students can benefit from various specialisations at several coperation universities. Since two years, the Netherlands organisation for scientific research has stimulated the establishment of graduate schools. In this programme, talented students are allowed to choose their future PhD supervisors and the subject they will work on. Graduate schools allow future supervisors to select the most talented students to carry out a PhD in their research groups. Newly formed graduate schools collaborate closely with the longer existing research schools creating a training scheme with a perfect balance between education and research. Based on our positive experiences, we believe a European scheme for Graduate schools would stimulate the European competition for the best graduate schools. It would stimulate Dutch universities to seek partnerships with their European counterparts and increase the mobility opportunities for their students and staff. 5. Keep excellence and impact (on science, technology and society) as the main selection criteria in FP8 The Dutch research universities strongly urge to keep scientific excellence and impact as the main selection criteria under the 8 th Framework Programme. In this respect is excellence understood as in striving to be world leading in one scientific area. Impact is defined as expanding scientific knowledge and achieving scientific breakthroughs and the effective dissemination and application of research results. The Dutch universities believe that funds for science, technology and innovation are most effectively invested when awarded only to scientists of the highest quality. Investing public funds in top scientists will ultimately lead to the highest revenue for the European society as a whole. The Framework programme s selection processes have been fully matured and the Dutch universities are assured that evaluations which are carried out are of high quality. The Dutch universities suggest that the expert database which has been developed should be used by all funding instruments that fall under the Framework programme as doing so will ensure the quality of the experts carrying out the evaluation and will simplify registration procedures for experts that wish to take part in the selection process. The ad random selection of experts by the expert database for projects should be safeguarded as it prevents possible favouritism in the selection of experts by panel chairs. 8

9 6. Introduce a Single Information Single Audit system for all types of ERA instruments ( 2 ). We invite the European Commission to take on the challenge to implement the idea of Single Information Single Audit system for all types of ERA instruments at ERA level. An important condition for implementing SISA successfully is that all costs involved in carrying out research should be made visible. A full cost system combined with SISA would lead to an integrated system that could lead to a substantial simplification and reduction of the administrative burden for researchers and universities. The Dutch research universities would welcome a shift from ex-post to ex-ante control with the aim to minimize the financial risks for the beneficiaries and the EU. Furthermore a High Trust approach in combination with a Certificate on the Methodology or a Framework Contract is promoted. This would effectively reduce the rate of errors and achieve a reasonable Tolerable Risk Error. Combining the approach of Certificate on the Methodology or Framework Contract with harmonization of the rules for all ERA Instruments would result in a harmonised reporting and auditing procedure for all EU Grants, reducing the administrative and financial management of all partners as well as limit the risk on systematic and nonsystematic errors in calculating the actual costs. The Dutch universities furthermore suggest a Single information, registration and single Audit per Legal Entity of which the actual cost based system within the usual national accounting practice is one of the elements. 7. Implement a full costing based subsidy system In order to obtain fully financial responsible and sustainable universities, a full costing based subsidy system is needed. Universities have to bare both direct and indirect costs. For both internal and external awareness of costs, full cost based accounting is preferable over direct cost based accounting systems. For further information you may contact Mr. Nick den Hollander: / +31 (0) For further details, please refer to the VSNU position paper on the Reduction of Administrative Burdens of European funding schemes, available at the VSNU website: 9

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