'Create better financing opportunities for fundamental research'
The League of European Research Universities (LERU) calls for greater appreciation of fundamental research that does not have an immediate application. A working group headed by Geert de Snoo, dean of the Leiden Faculty of Science, issued a memorandum on the subject on 29 August.
Difficult to predict
One of the premises of the memorandum is that research is the backbone of Europe's global competitive position. The broad spectrum of research at European universities lays the foundation for many discoveries and innovations that contribute to the European economy. However, in the early stages of fundamental research - from the humanities to social and behavioural sciences - scientists can by no means always make predictions about the innovations that their work will lead to.
Too much focus on applications
According to LERU, the European Horizon2020 subsidy programme in particular should take this more into account. Horizon2020 runs from 2014 to 2020 and has a budget of 70 billion euros for innovative research. Every year the programme invites researchers to submit subsidy applications. An analysis by LERU shows that projects that focus strongly on the applications of research have a much greater chance of success.
LERU urges Horizon 2020 to formulate the calls for applications in a more balanced way so that all parties have an equal chance of success with their subsidy applications. The organisation also advocates greater emphasis on collaboration between the diverse research groups. This will ultimately lead to optimum opportunities for universities and industry, according to the memorandum.