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Spreading Excellence and Crossing Innovation Divide Conference

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SECID (Spreading Excellence and Crossing Innovation Divide Conference)

Reporting period: 2016-07-01 to 2017-03-31

The conference Spreading Excellence and Crossing the Innovation Divide will be organised
during the Slovak presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second semester of
2016. The event will held in Brussels, Belgium. This conference takes place at an important
point in time since the ex-post evaluation of the 7th Framework Programme will be completed
and may thus contribute to the overall assessment and reflection on what has been achieved in
the effort of the EU to reduce disparities among Member States in terms of performance. In
addition, the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 will be launched and discussions on the
future Framework Programme will start to take shape. Furthermore, the first Widening
projects under Teaming Twinning and ERA Chairs have started already in 2015 and some
examples might be showcased. Among others, the event can follow the results and
recommendations resulting from the conference “Young Scientists in Europe” organised
during the Dutch presidency and at the same time add other insights.
The overall objective of the conference is to provide a platform for stakeholders to have an indepth discussion on the role of excellence in European research and innovation as well as
opportunities presented through Horizon 2020 and ESIF for crossing the innovation gap
between countries, regions, research institutions, universities, and enterprises. The event will
serve as a forum to assess results of Teaming, ERA chairs and Twinning projects in order to
point out the main reasons for these disparities. Moreover, it provides also an opportunity for
knowledge sharing and creating and building future partnerships. In addition, the conference
will raise awareness of specific measures for spreading excellence and widening participation
in Horizon 2020, ERA Chairs, Teaming and Twinning. Last but not least, the conference will
provide a space to discuss other instruments focusing on spreading excellence and crossing
innovation divide outside Horizon 2020.

The specific goals of the Conference are the following:
· Address the challenge of cooperating across the innovation divide which also includes
European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and Smart Specialisation strategies.
Specific attention will be given to the EU instruments supporting cooperation and
exchange and identification of best practices in Member States, regions and
institutions.
· Provide comprehensive and up-to-date information on the various instruments for
spreading excellence and increasing participation across the EU.
· Bring together researchers from low R&I performing EU Member States to discuss
their experiences while working abroad and address issues related to the career of
young researchers and brain circulation.
· Encourage closer collaboration and building new partnerships between institutions and
stakeholders from both sides of the innovation divide.
· Highlight opportunities for various stakeholders and project applicants for European
funding schemes and existing supporting instruments.
· At political level, the Conference is expected to produce recommendations on the
interaction of different instruments and their role in overcoming disparities in research
and innovation. Also, it will provide feedback and suggestions for institutions from
low-performing Member states on how to increase their innovation potential and
research excellence. Moreover, insights and results from the conference sessions can
serve as a supporting material for the Horizon 2020 interim evaluation.
The conference Spreading Excellence and Crossing the Innovation Divide was organised during the Slovak presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second semester of 2016. The event was held in Brussels, Belgium on 23rd November 2016. The overall objective of the conference was to provide a platform for stakeholders to have an in-depth discussion on the role of excellence
in European research and innovation as well as opportunities presented through Horizon 2020 and European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for crossing the innovation gap between countries, research institutions, universities, and enterprises. The event served as a forum to assess results of Teaming, ERA chairs and Twinning projects. In addition, the conference raised awareness
of specific measures for spreading excellence and widening participation in Horizon 2020, namely ERA Chairs, Teaming, Twinning, Policy Support Facility. Last but not least, the conference provided a space to discuss other instruments focusing on spreading excellence and crossing innovation divide outside Horizon 2020.

To achieve these goals 320 participants from 44 countries were brought together; in particular, European and national stakeholders, universities, research organizations, small and medium sized enterprises, researchers and European, national and regional government representatives.
During the conference Commissioner Carlos Moedas and Slovak Minister of Education Peter Plavčan also congratulated to coordinators of 10 winning projects of Teaming Phase 2 under Horizon 2020 programme. Winners were chosen from originally 167 projects. Winning projects from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Latvia, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and two projects from Hungary will split 140 million Euro to create a centre of excellence helping to improve performance in R&I funding programmes. Each project will be funded up to 15 million EUR.
Participants of the conference appreciated measures that have been introduced and implemented by the EC to help decrease the innovation gap. Nonetheless, further efforts have to be maintained. In order to cross the innovation divide and widen the participation of EU13 in Framework programmes it is essential that all actors and stakeholders in research and innovation take their part. Therefore, based on some ideas put forward by some participants, the SECID Conference calls on all stakeholders to be open to these suggestions which could significantly contribute to the reduction of innovation divide and increase the scientific excellence.

Suggestions for improvement were prepared at three levels:
• European Commission
• Member States
• Institutions and universities

Improvement is needed mainly in the following challenges:
• Reforms
• Budget and remuneration
• Brain circulation and attracting talents
• Investments in excellence
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