Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first ERIC Forum Meeting 2021 took place virtually on 26-27 January. It brought together more than 170 participants from the ERIC community, ESFRI, the European Commission (DG RTD), the European Innovation Council, and more.
The event was divided in two distinct moments:
- Day 1: a set of open sessions, enriched by the participation of stakeholders as both speakers and attendees, during which the Forum discussed high level science policy issues (the role of ERICs as key stakeholders in the new European Research Area and in innovation policies).
- An online hybrid dinner.
- Day 2: ERIC Forum General Assembly and ERIC Forum Implementation Project General Assembly.
ERICs as key players in the ERA and innovation ecosystems
Day 1 focused on the role of the ERICs in changing the European science policy environment. The new European Research Area (ERA) strategy, provided an opportunity to re-discuss the ERICs’ contribution to the development of a European single market for research. Anna Panagopoulou, Director of Common Implementation Centre at DG RTD, stated that ERICs remain one of the main successes of the ERA since its launch 20 years ago: ”The ERIC Regulation is still today one of the most successful legal instruments in research policy”.
Yet, the panorama around the ERICs is changing, first with a new Multiannual Financial Framework and a new Framework Programme, and second with changing expectations from decision makers and the public following the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why it is more crucial than ever to support new projects and existing ERICs with useful guidelines. This was the object of Johannes Klumpers contribution, who described the main structure of Horizon Europe and the role ERICs can have, on top of updating the Forum on the status of the new ERIC Guidelines. While the Commission plays an important role in shaping the Research Infrastructures’ panorama, ERICs remain an instrument for Member States to develop solid and sustainable research capabilities. Jan Hrušák, Chair of ESFRI, provided an update on the ESFRI Roadmap 2021, focusing on the shifting priorities for ESFRI, now that the RIs panorama is stabilising, with less and less projects coming to the forefront compared to past years.
The crucial role of ERICs is relating not only to providing access to European science, increasing collaborations across countries, and reducing scientific barriers along the eastern EU borderline, but also to the socio-economic impact and the innovation potential that each Research Infrastructure has. The European Innovation Council’s Director, Jean-David Malo, presented RIs, in particular ERICs, as a crucial component of innovation ecosystems.
A continuity of the ERIC Forum’s achievements built during 2020
During the meeting, the main achievements of the ERIC forum during 2020 were presented. These achievements support the Forum in delivering on its mission, ranging from positioning the ERIC Forum towards the Horizon Europe Mission Areas, raising awareness about the forum and ERICs’ COVID-19 services throughout different occasions, contributing to the new ERIC guidelines through best practices and targeted analysis, and more. The meeting was also an occasion for the ERIC community to initiate discussions on the sustainability of the ERIC Forum and its toolkit, which will merge all input developed within the ERIC Forum project to support ERICs-in-preparation in their establishment.
► Meeting agenda: Click here
- ERICs in the new ERA (By Anna Panagopoulou (Director of Common Implementation Centre at DG RTD): here.
- ERICs Role in the New ESFRI Stakeholder Forum and the New ESFRI Roadmap (Jan Hrušák – ESFRI Chair): here.
- The European Innovation Council: Opportunities for ERICs (Jean-David Malo, EIC): here.
- The EIROforum and Its Innovation Activities: Collaboration Opportunities with ERICs (Helmut Schober, EIROForum Chair): here.
- Showcasing the socio-economic Impact of ERICs (CLARIN-ERIC): here
- Showcasing the socio-economic Impact of ERICs (Euro-BioImaging ERIC): here
- ERICs-Industry collaboration example (EATRIS-ERIC): here