Despite serious efforts deployed at national and European level, the European Union sees significant internal disparities in terms of research and innovation performance as also identified in the Innovation Union Scoreboard. These trends are further exacerbated by the continuing severe financial crisis, and the subsequent adverse effects on public research and innovation budgets.
Also, there is significant evidence pointing to the fact that the pathway to economic growth and competitiveness is strongly connected to the scaling up of investment in research and innovation.
In order to address these challenges, Horizon 2020 introduces specific measures for spreading excellence and widening participation. These measures are targeted at low-performing Member States in terms of research and innovation, and they will be implemented by the Member States most in need of the new Cohesion policy for the 2014-2020 programming period.
- The Teaming action (associating advanced research institutions to other institutions, agencies or regions for the creation or upgrade of existing centres of excellence) is a new feature under Horizon 2020. It will provide new opportunities to the parties involved, with real prospects for growth through tapping into new collaboration and development patterns, including the establishment of new scientific networks, links with local clusters and opening up access to new markets. This will offer national and local research new possibilities for exploitation and value creation and boost the innovation potential of the countries involved.
- Twinning will help strengthen a defined field of research in a knowledge institution through linking with at least two internationally-leading counterparts in Europe.
- The ERA Chairs scheme will provide support for universities and other research institutions to attract and maintain high quality human resources and implement the structural changes necessary to achieve excellence on a sustainable basis.
- The Policy Support Facility will aim to improve the design, implementation and evaluation of national/regional research and innovation policies. It will offer expert advice to public authorities at national or regional level on a voluntary basis, covering the needs to access the relevant body of knowledge, benefit from the insight of international experts, use state of the art methodologies and tools, and receive tailor-made advice.
- Supporting access to international networks for excellent researchers and innovators who lack sufficient involvement in European and international networks. This will include support provided through COST.
- Strengthening the administrative and operational capacity of transnational networks of National Contact Points will allow financial and technical support and ensure the flow of information between them and the Horizon 2020 implementation bodies.
Maximising investment in research and innovation will enable the European Research Area to function in a more streamlined and homogeneous way, allowling the individual strengths of each Member State to be optimised.