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EUA Research Policy Working Group meets at University of Minho

01 June 2017

On 17 and 18 May 2017, the EUA Research Policy Working Group (RPWG) met at the University of Minho in Braga, Portugal to discuss EUA activities in the area of research and innovation.

Professor António Cunha, Rector of the University of Minho (UMinho), President of the Portuguese National Rectors’ Conference (CRUP), and member of the RPWG, opened the meeting with a presentation outlining UMinho’s manifold projects that have societal, cultural and economic impacts in the region of northern Portugal and beyond. The talk by Professor Nuno Sousa, President of the School of Medicine, further underlined the multidisciplinary nature of research and education at the School of Medicine and he presented its activities in translational research leading to spin-offs and public-private partnerships, such as 2CABraga, a collaboration between UMinho and the Hospital of Braga. The ensuing site visits to the 3Bs Laboratory for Biomaterials, Biodegradables and Biomimetics and the DoneLab demonstrated both UMinho’s role in the regional innovation ecosystem and its contribution to innovation in materials for the automotive sector on a global scale.

The discussions of the RPWG referred to recent EUA activities and major developments in European research policy, for example, the update of the EUA Autonomy Scorecard and the association’s recent call for ambitious funding in Europe post-2020. While the two main foci of the meeting were dedicated to taking forward the EUA Vision for FP9 and preparing the next steps in the area of smart specialisation, the RPWG also reflected on the state of play of the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020; underlined the need for new momentum in realising the European Research Area as proposed in the March 2017 joint statement by EUA, CESAER, LERU and Science Europe; and touched upon defence research.

In relation to the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP9), the RPWG discussed three key areas: strengthening linkages between education, research and innovation; strategies for openness based on excellence; and incentives for intensifying multidisciplinarity. The discussion showed, amongst others, that increased resources for ERC and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions could enhance the links between education, research and innovation. It was also noted that supportive frameworks at the national level in combination with a greater share of European Structural and Investment Funds spent on research could strengthen the openness of the next Framework Programme without compromising scientific excellence. 

With regard to the next steps of EUA in the area of smart specialisation (RIS3), Peter Haring-Bolívar, Vice-President for Research at the University of Siegen (Germany) and Chair of the EUA RIS3 Expert Group, outlined the main aspects of EUA’s response to the public consultation of the European Commission on RIS3 in March 2017, and presented the upcoming workshop in autumn 2017 on “universities in regional innovation ecosystems”, jointly organised by EUA and the National Rectors’ Conferences of Estonia and Finland. The event will be hosted by the University of Tartu, Estonia as a part of the Estonian Presidency of the EU. A primary objective of the workshop will be to formulate a set of recommendations to feed into an EUA position paper that will propose actions to improve the effectiveness of European research and innovation at regional level after 2020.

European University Association (EUA)

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