The future for Europe’s flagships

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20 februari 2017 | Within Horizon 2020 there are two flagship-programmes: Graphene and the Human Brain Project. How have they done so far? According to the interim evaluation by the European Commission the projects “are demonstrating that they are contributing towards excellent science.”

In the interim evaluation both projects are assessed on their relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and added value to the European Union. The aim is “to provide recommendations based on the lessons that can be learned from the implementation and operation of the Flagships. These can then be applied to the implementation of Flagship initiatives that the European Commission may launch in the future.”

Relevance

Acccording to the evaluation “the Human Brain Project needs to work further to achieve a more uniform level of research excellence across the project than has been achieved thus far. Both projects are however delivering world-leading results, and are reporting achievements beyond those defined by their Key Performance Indicators.”

For the future, the European Commission concludes that “if the individual Flagships continue to deliver on their ambitious agendas they will be well placed to make an important contribution towards the Europe 2020 goals of delivering smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.”

Effectiveness

Regarding their effectiveness, both “Flagships demonstrate their effectiveness in delivering excellent science, their future effectiveness in supporting innovation still needs to be demonstrated,” the evaluation committee writes.

However some improvements are desirable “to both the strategic and operational management of the Flagships. In particular, more can be done to reduce the burden associated with a two-year funding cycle, which importantly, will also help improve in-year budget flexibility and enable the Flagships to better respond to opportunities and make significant investments in infrastructure or demonstrators.”

Coherence

It is too early to say something about the efficiency of both Flagship programmes, but with regard to their coherence with other Horizon 2020 activities the report states “there is a need for improved interaction across the programme, in order to guarantee the Flagships are informed about decisions taken in other parts of the Horizon 2020 programme and Commission policy elsewhere.”

Added value

According to the report “the Flagship selection process needs openness and transparency and must involve all relevant stakeholders. This process also needs to ensure commitment and buy-in from national authorities from the start.”

The second matter to take into account is “that of the linking mechanisms between the Flagships and national initiatives, is still under development. These need to be further improved,” the report says.

The full report can be read here