ELEMENTS OF SWISS RESPONSES TO THE GREEN PAPER CONSULTATION COM(2011) 48

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1 Federal Department of Home Affairs FDHA State Secretariat for Education and Research SER International Cooperation Ref.: D1 Bern, May 18, 2011 ELEMENTS OF SWISS RESPONSES TO THE GREEN PAPER CONSULTATION COM(2011) 48 Executive Summary 1. Switzerland fully supports improving efficiency of research and innovation funding as elaborated in the European Commission s Green Paper COM(2011) 48, From Challenges to Opportunities: Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation funding. 2. Along the Commission s paper, Switzerland supports that all programmes and initiatives within the CSF should use a single set of rules, definitions and IPR. 3. We also strongly consider that excellence in research and innovation must be the only and universal criterion for evaluation in the Common Strategic Framework. 4. We advocate increasing the means of the ERC. 5. In parallel, we promote making the CSF more attractive for industry and especially SMEs and propose possible measures (identical rules and consistent interpretation, IPR supervision board/helpdesk, fast call handling, reduced controlling and bureaucracy, focus on small and bottom up projects). 6. We recommend covering the full innovation cycle and supporting bottom up funding of both frontier research and of innovation related projects based on excellence. To achieve this, the CSF should encourage thematically open project collaborations between academia and SMEs/industry. 7. In reply to the Green Paper Consultation, we suggest funding more small, creative and manoeuvrable projects (two third of the Societal Challenges funding should go to projects with small consortia of 6 7 partners at the most). More and smaller projects do not imply increased administration if more trust could increase the efficiency of the system. 8. We strongly advocate that bottom up and curiosity driven research should be substantially increased and provided with more means. 9. Switzerland recommends fully taking into account the principle of subsidiarity when devising and implementing research funding schemes. A real European added value should be the driver behind each funding instrument and programme. Note: This document is a synthesis made by the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER), in charge of the Swiss association to FP7, based on replies to the Green Paper received from Swiss stakeholders in research and innovation. Most stakeholders have also submitted their replies directly, and this paper does not intend to contradict these individual replies. The full compilation of received replies is submitted in parallel to this document. State Secretariat for Education and Research SER Hallwylstrasse 4, CH-3003 Bern

2 Take the Chance We fully support improving efficiency and strategic orientation of EU research and innovation funding as suggested in the European Commission s Green Paper From Challenges to Opportunities: Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation funding. The switch from subsequent Framework Programmes to a new concept in the Common Strategic Framework (CSF) holds the chance to consistent, streamlined and attractive EU research and innovation funding. We present some suggestions to achieve this hereafter, along the questions of the Green Paper. Deliver Europe 2020: Make the CSF attractive Excellence as Universal CSF Criterion: In the Common Strategic Framework, excellence in research and innovation should be the only and universal criterion for evaluation. Uncompromising striving for excellence allows building up European wide quality, competence and top education in the long run. This, in turn, fertilises the creation of the next generation of highly educated scientists and engineers to tackle the important issues for a strong and innovative Europe. Explicitly, CSF activities should not be tailored to address cohesion, given that this could severely jeopardise the performance of a consortium. Kept strictly separate from the CSF, yet with strong synergies and complementarity to it, cohesion policy and its specific instruments should support Member States with less successful research and innovation systems on their way to excellence and competitiveness. Yet, the rationales behind CSF and cohesion funds should not be mixed: Cohesion policy funds are distributed according to the cohesion rules, notably by investing in research infrastructure, whereas CSF actions are purely excellence based. Small Is Beautiful: We strongly recommend funding more small, creative and manoeuvrable projects (in contrast to larger, strategic ones), as they yield more results per Euro and have a substantial potential for innovation. The combination of FP, CIP and EIT in CSF must not result in a much larger budget, nor in larger projects in terms of participating partners. We consider that the CSF Societal Challenges should strike a balance of two third of funding going to projects with small consortia (6 7 partners at the most) and only one third to projects with larger consortia. Still, also small projects must yield added value at EU level (i.e. the benefit of carrying out small projects at EU level as opposed to national projects must be clearly identified). Trust Reduces Bureaucracy: More and smaller projects do not imply increased administration by the European Commission or its Executive Agencies if more trust gains the system. This could result in more punctual and less systematic controls. Furthermore, if researchers are allowed flexibility in using the allocated fund, less repetitive controls are indicated. Finally, a more trust based and risk tolerant approach greatly improves efficiency, as it allows for unexpected results and thus takes into account the unpredictable nature of research and innovation. Add EU Value, Be Modest with Leverage: The EU needs to ensure that it concentrates on activities that provide a clear European added value, develop critical mass or set standards. To build up the ERA, a well tuned complementarity between the CSF initiatives, other programmes like COST or EUREKA and national strategies should be sought. As for leveraging other sources of funding, researchers feel that funding is already fractioned into too many pieces, which raises the overhead costs and favours institutions with already significant funding. Leveraging other sources of funding can further deteriorate the situation and often leads to new funding rules, thus making the system still more complex. We feel therefore that there should not be an emphasis on leveraging other sources of funding, except in cases where the EU only funds the coordination of other programmes. Incentives for leveraging other sources can still be given, but not in a mandatory way. From an economic point of view finally, the most efficient leverage results from cooperation between academia and SMEs/industry, which creates knowledge and technology transfer in the largest possible sense. 2/5

3 Identical Rules: In reply to the Green Paper consultation, we strongly recommend that all programmes and initiatives within the CSF should use a single set of rules and definitions. Within this set, the rules should be clear, proportionate and adapted for the different users (three categories: public institutions, SMEs, large industry) and leave flexibility for the individual realisation of elements. The number of programmes and initiatives should be reduced to an absolute minimum, and tools created in one thematic area (e.g. FET Flagships) should be conceived in a way that they can be applied in other areas as well. Consistent Interpretation: One should guarantee full consistency within the CSF by simple rules, which in turn allow consistent interpretation. To guarantee steady interpretation, one could create an electronic system that logs decisions and recommendations to project partners by staff of the European Commission or its Executive Agencies and that can be consulted by the applicant (this could be an extension of the current submission and project management tool). Similar tasks such as call evaluations could be concentrated within the specialised entities at the Commission or at Executive Agencies, thus avoiding different interpretations in e.g. JTI Joint Undertakings. For IPR, we suggest providing an authoritative, single entity for interpretation of rules and IPR, which could also serve as Helpdesk for applicants. Attractive Call Handling: Switzerland advocates implementing calls in a more transparent and streamlined way. Already intermediary drafts of the Work Programme during the elaboration phase should be published (as recently in FP7 HEALTH) to allow timely formation of consortia. We suggest a large proportion of two stage calls for better success rates. Transparent reviewing by scientific or technical experts using tight page limits, decisions on short deadlines and the indication of scientific / technical reasons (rather than scores by anonymous bodies) would speed up the evaluation process and lower the frustration in case of project refusal. After submission, one should try to reduce especially the time for the negotiation phase (e.g. through smaller consortia and less controls) to allow a swift start of a project. Also the reporting burden should be alleviated, resulting in quicker final payments after the end of a project. Tackling Challenges: Stimulate Enthusiasm Bottom Up and Curiosity Driven Research Creates Enthusiasm: We consider that bottomup and curiosity driven research should be substantially increased and provided with more means under the CSF. According to some Swiss researchers, there is a lack of curiosity driven research in FP7 (except for the ERC), as everything is formulated by the agenda. Yet, curiosity driven research forms the very basis of the development of novel key technologies, which in the long term may have larger impact than short and midterm agenda driven activities. Similarly, bottom up research allows researchers and innovators to fulfil their own ideas with the greatest enthusiasm and dedication. Even required administrative burden is more bearable if it is for the own cause rather than for an imposed research approach. Bottom up and curiosity driven projects also help fostering scientific excellence and keeping the programmes open for new developments. In our view, even within agenda driven activities, we should refrain from prescribing the methodology in detail; the calls should rather be limited to the definition of the aims and expected impact of the project. This would not only simplify the call elaboration procedure, but allow applicants to formulate innovative solutions bottom up even within small projects. Strengthening Competitiveness: Innovate Broadly and Implicate SMEs Cover the Full Innovation Chain: Frontier research and applied research are not antagonistic, but complementary measures. We are therefore in favour of bottom up funding of both frontier research and of innovationrelated projects based on excellence. To cover the full innovation chain, the CSF should en 3/5

4 courage project collaborations between academia and SMEs/industry. Importantly, we would advise funding projects at all stages of the innovation chain, but not funding single projects that embrace all stages of this innovation chain, given that the full innovation cycle takes years and many steps which can not be planned (neither in industry, nor in academia, nor in governmental administration, and the market is not predictable either). To acknowledge the broad range of innovation, Switzerland supports a sufficiently large understanding of innovation including organisational and social innovation, endorsed by interdisciplinarity, e.g. through the promotion of inter and multidisciplinary research networks. To this end, the existing funding programmes in research (FP), innovation (CIP) but also in education (LLP) should be coordinated amongst each other and synchronised with programmes such as EUREKA and COST. Align the CSF for SMEs and Industry: Industry and especially SMEs are key players to translate knowledge from basic research into solutions and products. One should render the CSF fundamentally more attractive for industry and particularly for SMEs, by implementing the elements already mentioned: Provide identical rules and assure their consistent interpretation, deploy an IPR supervision board/helpdesk, make call handling quick, user friendly and transparent, and reduce controlling and bureaucracy by including more trust. Importantly, funding should concentrate on small, manageable projects that allow bottom up shaping of research topics. Besides the fact that such small projects yield a faster development of concrete applications and solutions, they allow distributing the risk among a greater number of smaller projects (while still raising a critical mass), given that innovation projects are prone to risk and innovation outcome is hardly predictable. To accommodate the needs of SMEs, one could consider specific options for them in the common set of rules, definitions and IPR, e.g. the use of fixed hourly rates similar to the Marie Curie rates for very small companies (even though for Switzerland these rates are far too low, especially if the SME owner does not hold a Ph.D.). SMEs form the clear majority of the economic tissue (at least in Switzerland), and those which are innovation oriented are often located in close vicinity to Universities (including Universities of Applied Sciences). Collaborations between SMEs and Universities should be strongly encouraged to take full advantage of this fact. Disseminate Results after Patenting: In our view, research products financed through public funds must be made publicly available and thus be published (it is all in the name). In this sense, industry should bear a considerable part of the costs towards the end of the innovation chain if it wants to commercialise a product issue of research that is publicly funded. To guarantee adequate protection to exploit findings, Swiss firms and institutions use a simple and well working formula: Protection of IP, usually with a delay of 6 months, during which publication is prohibited, followed by the usual publication. A short deadline should be imposed for the decision about filing a patent or not. It is important to keep in mind that patenting is a process that many scientists are not familiar with, and that results can still be published following a patent submission. To assure publication after a patent filing, some replies even suggested that the full project costs would have to be reimbursed by industry if the results are not published. Strengthen Europe s Science Base and ERA: Build up ERC and Allow Mobility Strengthen the ERC: The European Research Council ERC stimulates scientific excellence in Europe by encouraging competition between the best researchers of any nationality and age. The ERC s bottom up approach allows researchers to identify new opportunities in any field of research. This funding model offers great flexibility in supporting outstanding research projects at the frontiers of knowledge that put Europe at the forefront of science. We consider that the ERC has been a very effective instrument and advocate a strong increase of its funding. Capitalise on the Marie Curie Actions: Marie Curie actions are linked to the ERC scheme in that their fellows are potential future ERC ap 4/5

5 plicants. Europe's excellence is dependent on researcher s mobility, which in turn supports the brain circulation (knowledge transfer) and the quality of science. We thus recommend more funding for Marie Curie Actions, especially for the mobility of young researchers (PostDocs, PhDs). We also support programs where people from industry and academia are interchanged (without any mandatory character if industrial collaborations fail to provide added value for the research training). Within the Marie Curie actions, one could provide specific fellowships for women after a career break. No quotas should be used, but incentives could be given for funding female scientist returning into science after a parental leave. Support for dual career couples within Marie Curie actions should also be envisaged. Glossary: CIP Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme EC European Commission EIT European Institute for Technology ERA European Research Area ERC European Research Council EU European Union FP Framework Programme IPR Intellectual Property Rules JTI Joint Technology Initiatives LLP Lifelong Learning Programme SME Small and Medium Enterprise Support Research Infrastructures (RIs): Transnational research infrastructures are focal points where excellence in science acts as a driver for excellence in technology, education and management. Many of their activities span the full innovation chain and thus deserve financial support by the CSF. Funding should base on performance and scientific output only (i.e. excellence) according to international peer review standards. Funding should cover access costs, user fees and true additional cost (both for the user and the facility). Cooperate Internationally: In order to foster excellent research, it is helpful to allow for the possibility to include partners from third countries (with funding if such a partner is necessary to achieve the project results). For a coherent ERA, we feel that international cooperation with non EU countries should be increased, especially within Europe. We would strongly advocate for an identical status for the Associated Countries as they are very engaged and committed both to the European research and innovation programmes as well as the realisation of the ERA. Overcome ERA Obstacles: Switzerland is very committed to ERA and its development. Because of this commitment, we suggest allowing the ERA to evolve in a sustainable way (rather than setting an early deadline to a meaningful but unready endeavour). 5/5

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