The much expected Horizon 2020 was launched by the European Commission last week with the first call for the Research and Innovation Funding Framework for 2014-2020.
Although universities and other stakeholders positively reacted to the announcement, some doubts concerning evaluation have arisen. The European University Association Dr Lidia Borrell-Damián, Director of Research and Innovation commented that it is not clear how the decision will be made when some projects are awarded the same scores. It seems that the Grant Award Panel will be responsible for that decision, but no criteria have been settled so deliberation might appear somewhat arbitrary. Dr. Borrell-Damián believes that Horizon 2020 introduces an element of uncertainty because within a broader topic many different disciplines and approaches fall in. Thus, stakeholders wonder on what basis Panels will decide on one proposal over the other in the event that both are highly marked.
On the other hand, a recent League of European Research Universities (hereinafter LERU) press release states that the final result is much better than the initial proposal by the European Commission in November 2011. Notwithstanding that, LERU remarks that the EU’s choice to support growth areas such as research and innovation, but also education, could have been even more outspoken as originally proposed by the European Commission and the European Parliament. Moreover, the press release points out that it will be crucial to monitor how Horizon 2020 will be implemented and how its ambitious goals will be translated into practice.
These drawbacks should not subtract interest from Horizon 2020. It will probably boost research and innovation throughout Europe as well as cooperation between organizations and countries, which would surely add value to future projects. Nevertheless, in the very beginning of that 7 years framework, there still are quite a few details to clarify.