The European Commission will further simplify participation in Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme. New funding rules will reduce administrative costs to participants and help prevent accounting errors.
Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, presented a package of simplification measures in a meeting today with Members of the European Parliament, the European Court of Auditors and major research and innovation stakeholder organisations.
Commissioner Moedas said: "Radical simplification is one of the defining features of Horizon 2020, when compared to previous programmes. Responses from stakeholders show that huge progress has been made. But simplification is an on-going process. We have listened to researchers, businesses and other stakeholders and reflected their feedback in this second wave of simplification of Horizon 2020. The new measures will further cut red tape, making the programme even more attractive for top researchers and the most innovative enterprises, which is a major pre-requisite for achieving the Commission’s policy objectives." The new measures will further simplify rules and procedures in Horizon 2020, making participation in the Programme easier. They will also pave the way for new simplification measures under the next Framework Programme. The changes comprise:
1) A revision of the Horizon 2020 Model Grant Agreement adopted yesterday introduces a new definition of additional remuneration of researchers, and also simplifies the charging of other costs in Horizon 2020 grants. This will allow the broadest possible acceptance of beneficiaries' own usual accounting and management practices. The revision introduces a number of detailed measures including:
2) Streamlining the Horizon 2020 work programme for 2018-20. More than ever before, the final work programme of Horizon 2020 will focus on key priorities. There will be fewer topics and fewer calls. The aim is to both maximise impact, and to ensure that stakeholders can easily find topics of interest.
3) Making the programme more relevant and easier to access for start-ups and innovators. As set out in the Start-up and Scale-up Initiative, the Commission intends to make changes for the remaining period of Horizon 2020 in order to target breakthrough innovation with the potential for scaling up and will consider reinforcing this approach in future through a European Innovation Council. Preparatory actions in the Horizon 2020 work programme 2018-2020 will include adapting the SME Instrument so that it can support innovations in any area as opposed to predefined topics and introducing an interview stage to evaluate the most promising project proposals. The Commission will also upgrade online navigation tools in order to facilitate access to the programme for innovators.
4) The wider use of lump-sum project funding has the potential to considerably reduce the administrative burden on participants - keeping the project focus firmly on research and innovation, enhancing impacts and lowering the financial error rate. This is also in line with the Commission's priority on Budget Focused on Results.. Lump-sum funding aims to shift the focus from checking inputs (i.e. costs incurred) to monitoring performance and outputs, covering the entire project life cycle, including new ways of ex-post audits.
Working from 2014 to 2020 with a budget of nearly €77 billion, Horizon 2020 is one of the largest research and innovation schemes worldwide. In its first two years, the programme attracted over 76 thousand eligible proposals. Over 9000 grant agreements were signed by 1 September 2016 following call deadlines in 2014 and 2015, allocating almost €16 billion to boosting excellent science, creating industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. Almost a half of successful applicants are newcomers to the programme.
Simplification is a central aim of Horizon 2020 and is fully reflected in its design, rules, financial management and implementation. The aim is to make Horizon 2020 simpler and more attractive, particularly for newcomers to the Programme. The success of simplification in Horizon 2020 has been convincingly confirmed by the overall positive results of a survey addressed to participants in Horizon 2020 projects. Nevertheless, further simplification of Horizon 2020 remains a priority to ensure the Programme is attractive to the best researchers and innovators, to reduce the administrative costs for participation and to contribute to the prevention and reduction of financial errors. The Commission will also consider the scope for further simplification as part of the ongoing interim evaluation and as a priority for the next Framework Programme.
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