Session 1 | Protecting Collaborative Research in a Turbulent Europe
Recent geopolitical trends have led to concerns about a possible adverse impact on international research collaboration. European research is at a critical juncture, faced with political changes and challenges as well as the implementation of new funding programmes, and different approaches to governance issues around the continent. Politically, recent elections across Europe have led to shifting research priorities. European countries have different amounts of domestic money allocated to research and development, and political agendas are shaped across countries with different results on the research environment.
At the same time, the EU is defining its next flagship research programme, Horizon Europe, with ambitions to be even more global in reach than its predecessor, Horizon 2020. The focus of this session is to consider how the research community can respond to these changes and deal with uncertainty to ensure that high quality international research collaboration is maintained. After all, knowledge production is fundamentally an international endeavour, therefore collaboration that transcends borders and cultures is vital.
Session 2 | Balancing excellence and regional equality within Europe
Excellence is currently a key driver in the award of competitive research funding within Europe, including within EU Framework Programmes. This focus has tended to favour more developed nations and regions and, within them, a limited number of highly successful research-driven universities and organisations. There is arguably a tension between this outcome and the EU’s commitment to regional development within its Member States.
This session will consider how smaller nations and regions can develop their contribution to research and development, in the context of pursuing economic growth across Europe. What is the balance between a focus on excellence and the provision of funds to ‘kick start’ research and development in currently under-funded places? How can a research funding system deliver such goals without compromising academic independence? And how can separate funds supporting excellence and regional development be most effectively brought together to achieve growth and prosperity?
Session 3 | Interdisciplinary Research: The Key to the Future?
There is now widespread recognition of the essential role of interdisciplinary research in addressing complex problems and tackling fundamental challenges from climate change to an ageing population, food security to public health. Indeed, there is an increasing amount of research funding across Europe being awarded on a challenge-led basis, as well as the development of missions for Horizon Europe. At the same time, much of the research and innovation system – from funding streams to journals, academic assessment and rewards – remain fundamentally structured and organised along disciplinary lines.
Interdisciplinary research presents challenges to this system. There are also recognised complexities in undertaking interdisciplinary research, including different ‘languages’, approaches to research design and methodology. Drawing on examples of interdisciplinary research, this session will reflect on how the research environment and landscape (including training), and international research collaboration in particular such as through EU Framework Programmes, can be shaped to best support high quality interdisciplinary researchers and research.