Speech by Commissioner Mariya Gabriel at the European R&I Days 2021

(Source: European Commission)

Dear Ministers,

Dear Members of Parliament,

Dear Research and Innovation Community,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the third edition of the Research and Innovation Days.

Since the last edition, a lot has happened for European Research and Innovation. We are keen on hearing your views and your expectations for Research and Innovation policy to build up a sustainable future for Europe.

The COVID-19 crisis proved that cooperation in research and innovation is essential in our recovery from the pandemic and will pave the way to a greener, more digital and fairer future.

And the European Research and Innovation Days represent a unique opportunity to add your voice to the conversation. I believe that we can deliver excellent results for Europe in the next decade.

Because with Horizon Europe we have the most ambitious EU research and innovation programme with three dimensions:

  • First – its wider scope of flexible instruments covering fundamental research to close to market activities,
  • Second – its duration, which allows for stability and continuity of our investments and,
  • Third – its unprecedented budget of 95.5 billion EUR.

Last week, I announced the Horizon Europe Work Programme for the next two years with a total budget of 14.7 billion euro and yesterday the calls for proposals were launched.

You will be able to hear first-hand about the programme’s novelties and get insights on its structure and launched calls from Commission staff at the event Village.

Now, we are better prepared for the next decade because we have defined new guiding policies and targets.

Besides the well-known objectives related with the green and digital transitions, Horizon Europe will focus on improving our health, mobility, energy efficiency, food security, while tackling climate change and preserving our cultural heritage.

The importance of investing in science and innovation became clearer to all of us during the crisis.

We have succeeded in developing effective vaccines in an incredibly short period. This was only possible because of the decades of investments in research and innovation via our dedicated programmes and the flexibility embedded in Horizon 2020, which we adapted in record time.

There are more challenges ahead, in all policy areas, for which R&I will be instrumental and we must strengthen our European capacity.

To address some of these challenges, we have renewed the priorities of the European Research Area. In our dedicated session, we will discuss the main achievements so far and how to best further engage citizens and stakeholders.

Concrete guiding principles, investments and actions would enable us to build forward better.

But this is not all Europe is doing for Research and Innovation. With Horizon Europe, we are also aiming at creating more synergies with other European programmes, in order to do more for our citizens.

I am thinking about the synergies with the Cohesion policywith the Recovery and Resilience facility or with the Industrial Roadmap.

Another direction for synergies is on public-private cooperation. In order to solve great technological challenges such as the development of clean Hydrogen or High Performance Computing, we must work hand in hand with industry.

And here, European Partnerships will be instrumental.

Later today, we will celebrate the signature of 11 Memoranda of Understandings with industry for the co-programmed partnerships and the engagement and commitment of our industrial partners. A historic moment!

A sustainable and resilient recovery requires solutions, which can be achieved only by activating an innovation ecosystem that is:

First: flexible and collaborative,

Second: involves a broad mix of actors and territories, maximising the impact of innovation to all,

And third: draws on the strengths of national, regional and local innovation ecosystems.

We want to foster a fit for purpose, inclusive and connected pro-innovation environment to help Europe capitalise on its scientific excellence, its collective intelligence and creativity.

The European cultural and creative sectors are among the key assets of Europe, contributing to 12 millions of jobs, social cohesion and wellbeing. For the first time, we will have dedicated cluster in Horizon Europe on culture and creativity. And, for the first time, we will have a session about the future vision of the cultural and creative ecosystem.

Scientific excellence needs to be reaffirmed as core to Europe’s competitiveness. And, universities are knowledge creators, combining education, research and benefits for society in their key mission.

So, it is important to strengthen higher education institutions and their surrounding ecosystems through the European universities alliances, to improve access to excellence for all institutions.

And, we want to support the transformation of universities in Europe. This will allow them to become catalysers of knowledge and innovation, and developers of talent.

We need stronger cooperation at the European, regional and national level to create an innovation ecosystem, which can benefit all regions, in which start-ups can thrive, and no one is left behind.

So, our ambition is to build a renewed innovation policy that provides smart investments for scaling up companies, new forms of financial instruments and how to best exploit synergies between EU, national and regional funds.

Cooperation is indeed key and with this in mind, we recently released our Communication on Global Approach for Research and Innovation. With this document, we set out our global strategy for cooperation with other countries and entities.

Europe is open to the world; so is Horizon Europe and European Research and Innovation. We want to collaborate with as many countries as possible because challenges, such as climate change, require a global mobilisation.

However, we must also protect our common values such a freedom of research, ethics and secure reciprocity.

Last but not least, citizens must be at the centre of the policy process from the creation to the implementation and monitoring phase.

The European missions were an important step in this direction, they are changing the way we do Research and Innovation policy in Europe by integrating citizens in the whole process. The objectives of the five missions are concrete and close to the citizens.

Looking at the next steps ahead, the Conference for the Future of Europe will also be crucial to engage the citizens. We need to listen and take fully into account the expectations of the citizens in our policies because we must learn from them.

So yes. I’m convinced that today we can send strong messages:

First, research, innovation and education are key drivers for overcoming challenges and paving the way towards a sustainable, green and digital future

Second, we need effective synergies at all levels. Synergies between policies, between programmes and instruments at EU, national, regional and local level. We need synergies between sectors and disciplines for building a more sustainable knowledge-based economy and resilient society.

Finally, we need to engage citizens. We need everyone on board. We are ready to listen to every single voice to make the difference happen.

Time to act is now: to put our programmes and your ideas into motion

Welcome to the R&I days 2021 and please, be bold in your ideas.

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