Commission launches new information source on research systems and policies in the EU. Read the Commission's Press Release
ERA Policies aims at providing information and analysis to support evidence-based policy-making in the research and innovation field in Europe and to contribute to the realisation of the European Research Area (ERA). ERA Policies offers evidence of and insights into the European research, education and innovation landscape. It is an acknowledged source of information for policy analysts and policy-makers within and beyond the EU as well as for academics with interests in science and technology policy and the economics of R&D and technological innovation.
A core activity is the ongoing development and maintenance of a group of complementary knowledge platforms: ERAWATCH, NETWATCH, and I3S. These combine key information on research systems and policies, on transnational and international collaboration, and on the implementation of the Innovation Union, with policy relevant analytical perspectives. This work is co-funded with DG RTD in the context of a long-term strategic partnership.The work of the Action currently centres on the following activities:
Monitoring and analysis of the Innovation Union
The aim of the Innovation Union Information and Intelligence system (I3S) is to ensure that all stakeholders are well informed on the implementation of the Innovation Union Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative. I3S is an information platform providing information on the nature and implementation of all 34 of the Innovation Union Commitments. Work continues to augment the content of the system as a stakeholder platform, to improve its functionality for internal and external users, and to enhance its role in the monitoring and analysis of Innovation Union activities.
Analysis of national research policy mixes.
Central to work on assessment of the evolution of national policy mixes is the continued provision of the ERAWATCH web-based platform. Developed in close collaboration with the Commission's Directorates General for Research and Innovation and for Enterprise, ERAWATCH provides information and analysis on EU research and innovation policies, activities, and programmes as well as other European intergovernmental activities. It includes an evolving series of annual analytical country reports to assess national policy mixes in all EU Member States and countries associated to the Framework Programme, with particular regard to the ERA dimensions of national polices. ERAWATCH also includes monitoring and analysis of research policies and systems in third countries, with recent analytical work addressing international cooperation between Member States and third countries.
ERAWATCH country reports also provide the basis for further analytical work. Recent work examines the importance of intergovernmental learning in the evaluation of socio-economic impact in the EU.
Monitoring the European Research Area (ERA)
ERA Policies continues to conduct analyses relevant to European research policy, drawing mainly on the information available in the web-based ERAWATCH knowledge platform. These analyses seek to contribute to sound policy-making at all levels of governance by offering evidence of and insights into various aspects of the European research and innovation landscape.
A particular focus of recent and current work is the role of university research. Universities are key actors in the European research landscape, and progress towards excellence in research in Europe will not be possible without their active participation. Recent work has sought to obtain a picture of the university landscape in Europe and its evolution, focusing on issues such European university funding and financial autonomy.
A related exploratory activity analyses the relations between universities and business based on patent data. This provides insights into progress towards ERA, patterns in cross-border knowledge flows, and the merits of patent ownership by universities for promoting innovation
Increasing the attractiveness of a research career and the mobility of researchers has become a priority: the realisation of a single labour market for researchers is one of the six axes of the ERA. More recently, the ERA Vision 2020 recognised the free circulation of researchers as an important part of the ‘fifth freedom’ – the free movement of knowledge. Work seeks to contribute to ongoing efforts by the Commission to build a robust empirical evidence base on researchers.
More exploratory work has sought to explore the concept of the emerging European Research and Innovation System. Using both patent and research investment data, this entails in depth analysis of the structure and evolution of the system of research and innovation relationships between actors located inside the borders of the EU-27 at various levels.
Within the ERAWATCH network, IPTS is also involved in a study on international mobility and researchers' career development (SIM-ReC).
Joint Programming and transnational collaboration in research and innovation
Transnational collaboration, and particularly the ERA-Net scheme and the Joint Programming Initiatives, are central elements of the European Research Area (ERA) philosophy. They play an increasingly important role in making better use of Europe's public R&D funds through enhanced cooperation between Member States and their respective national research programmes.
The NETWATCH online platform, developed by the JRC in collaboration with the European Commission's Directorate General for Research and Innovation, provides opportunities for mutual learning among ERA-NETs and a repository of information on European transnational R&D programme collaboration, together with analysis of its development. Such analysis of the development of transnational RTD programme cooperation in Europe relates to ongoing discussion on Joint Programming in the EU.
Joint Programming represents an important advance in improving research cooperation within Europe, and in enhancing the efficiency and impact of national public research funding, by providing a mechanism for effective partnership between those involved in the development and implementation of national research programmes in Member States.
The EU's Strategic Energy Technologies (SET) Plan presented in 2007 provides a first important experience of Member States working together in this way to address a major European societal challenge. This approach has also been the subject of ERAWATCH analytical work. Focusing further on the field of energy and drawing on work on transnational collaboration and the ERA, IPTS has also contributed to the development of the Research Capacity Maps included in the SET Plan and a core part of SETIS (the Strategic Energy Technology Information System).
"Foresight" is shorthand for a set of techniques increasingly used to support policy-makers in build long-term strategies through structured and focused interaction with experts and stakeholders. Since the creation of the JRC Institute for Prospective Technological Studies in 1994, foresight activities have played a role in many of the research activities undertaken by the institute. The work of ERA Policies complements the strategic anticipation function of JRC HQ.
Building on this long tradition, work in ERA Policies on the application of foresight approaches is increasingly focused on ERA-relevant policy issues. This includes work on the current and future role of universities, on priority areas for EU-Russia cooperation and for Western Balkan Countries and participation in the Visions for the ERA (VERA) project. ERA Policies is also a participant in the European Foresight Platform, which builds on the IPTS Online Foresight Guide FOR-LEARN.
IPTS has organised four editions of the biannual International Seville Conference on Future-Oriented Technology Analysis: a major occasion for FTA experts, practitioners and decision-makers to bring their ideas and knowledge together in a highly interactive environment.