Horizon 2020 victim of its own success
“We are drowning in proposals,” explains Robert-Jan Smits, director-general of DG Research and Innovation
Almost one year to the day after the European Parliament gave its green light to Horizon 2020, the €80 billion framework programme for research and innovation, it is time for the Commission and MEPs to draw the first conclusions.
“The main challenge we are facing is oversubscription. We are drowning in proposals,” said Robert-Jan Smits, director-general of DG Research and Innovation, during an exchange of views with members of the EP’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) on 17 November. “This leads to very low success rates for applicants, which can be very discouraging,” Smits said, specifying that these rates currently range from one out of eight to one out of 30.
The Horizon 2020 web-based participant portal receives around three million visits and 35,000 responses to calls for proposals each month.
Ironically, one of the reasons for this success is simplification – the Commission’s overarching leitmotif during the elaboration and negotiation process of Horizon 2020.
“We made it easier for researchers and innovators to access EU funding, we got rid of the barriers and now people come massively,” stated Smits.
Another reason is the cuts in R&I public spending in the member states, pushing researchers to turn to EU funding instead.
Smits said the currently applied two-stage submission procedure somewhat mitigates the oversubscription. He also praised the European Research Council’s application policy, which prevents researchers who submitted a proposal of poor quality from applying for a certain period of time afterwards.
In: Growth & Competitiveness