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Researchers and businesspeople from around the European Union are pleased with the fact that the Commission has created a common strategic framework for the future of research and innovation funding. This is the provisional conclusion that can be made after analyzing the 470 responses to the consultation organized by the Commission received so far. Nearly all of the responses highlight the importance of simplifying the procedures to request funding and justifing how the funds are used. The responses also show the need for a more direct relationship with the general population, for example through increased attention to science education and information or to promoting science.

The common strategic framework will channel funding currently offered through the Research Framework Program (7th FP), the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Program (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

More responses are expected, as those interested in participating have until 20 May 2011 to add their two cents. A total of 28,500 people from 134 countries have visited the consultation website: Two thirds of those who have responded so far are individuals; the other third is made up equally of commercial organizations, universities and other higher education centers. Approximately 10% of the participants claim to be represent an SME and more than half say they have received funding through the 7th FP.

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European commissioner for Research and Innovation, explains, "It is very exciting to see the huge response to the consultation. I encourage all those interested who haven’t yet participated to contribute their opinion on the subject and I guarantee that all contributions will be taken into account. The main message that the Commission is receiving, with which I am fully satisfied, is that we must still reduce the amount of paperwork and become more innovative if we want to face global problems, foster growth and employment, and improve the general population’s daily lives.”

After the consultation, on 10 June, there will be a conference held in Brussels with more than 700 scientists, businesspeople, politicians and others interested to examine and debate the results. The results of this consultation and conference will make up the foundation for a proposal on future research and innovation funding in the EU that the Commission will present at the end of this year. The new system, which must first be approved by the European Parliament and Council, will go into force on 31 December 2013, which the current program expires.

Seeking a name for the new funding program

In addition to the consultation on the contents of the new program, the Commission has also organized a contest to name the program (IP/11/371). The deadline for proposals is 10 May:

Afterwards, an international jury will present a short-list of three candidates to be put to public voting. So far, more than 1,000 possible names have been received.

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