Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin,

Former Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. I’m very happy to be here.

I want to begin by thanking my good friend Jerzy Buzek for inviting me here today.

Jerzy, you were the first MEP I met before my hearing in the European Parliament to become a European Commissioner. And since then we have worked alongside each other many times.

I’ve come to realise that you represent a true European. You have such an ability to work with others, to bridge divides and always look for a compromise.

Now more than ever we need that in Europe.

Zygmunt Bauman, the Polish philosopher said: “Real dialogue isn’t about talking to people who believe the same things as you.”

So I just wanted to begin by saying thank you Jerzy and I am looking forward to the next month’s working to build Horizon Europe together.

The future of Horizon Europe is precisely what I’m here to talk to you about today.

Because research, science and innovation in Europe is at a turning point.

The next few months will define the next few years.

In May we stood up and presented a proposal for the most ambitious research and innovation budget in the history of the European Union.

Our budget is ambitious. Our budget should be ambitious. And our answer to that is Horizon Europe.

Horizon Europe is built on a foundation of three main pillars. So that means we have three tasks ahead:

Continuing success in fundamental, open science.

New thinking on how we tackle our global challenges.

And radically shifting how we think about innovation.

First, let met talk about fundamental science.

Our scientific credentials are one of the biggest success stories of the European project.

Globally, our brand is excellence. That is undeniable. So our job for Horizon Europe is to keep it that way.

That’s one of the reasons why the ERC is the biggest budget line in Horizon Europe with 16,6 billion euro and also one of the major gainers in terms of total new funding, with an increase of 3,6 billion euros compared to Horizon 2020.

We are also committed to keep supporting our world-class research infrastructures as well as amazing researchers with our Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme. People that are continuing the line of one of Poland’s most remarkable scientists.

Excellent science also means open science. There has always been a push towards opening up science. And there has always been pushback. Sometimes even by from those you least expect it.

When Galileo first observed the rings of Saturn he had a dilemma. He wanted to announce his discovery and claim the credit. But he didn’t want to let the secret out and risk a fellow scientist swooping in before he had done more research.

So he wrote a letter to some of his competitors like Johannes Kepler telling them about his discovery, but written in an undecipherable code. Galileo’s backers, the Medici, eventually instructed him to reveal his discovery so that the knowledge could be shared by all.

Galileo belongs to the past. And so should the idea of hiding scientific discoveries.

Europe has made a political commitment to open access. Now is the time for us to act collectively to make this a reality.

Second, let’s talk about global challenges.

More and more we are faced with challenges which cannot be solved in isolation. Problems that no single discipline will be able to find a solution for.

That is why we need to continue to develop an impact-focused, interdisciplinary science and innovation landscape.

At the same time, European science needs to reconnect with citizens. Some think that science is only for scientists. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.

That is why we have decided to introduce one of the most important novelties of Horizon Europe: missions.

This is how we will set our sights on a goal that inspires us. That connects to the citizen. That involves them.

Something that communicates clearly the value for money in European science. Something we can all rally behind.

Really, when you look back in history, we have always dreamed about these kinds of quests.

The ancient Romans were the first, but certainly not the last, to search for source of the Nile.

Since the 15th century hundreds of explorers set out to discover the location of the Northwest Passage along the Arctic. And by the way, Poland sent one of the highest numbers of people to explore it. People like Janusz Kurbiel and Dariusz Bogucki.

And quests were not just a part of the past. Even in the last century, becoming the first nation to land on the moon went from a pipe dream to a matter of national prestige.

Citizens will be involved in deciding what missions we choose. And how we get there is not just up to scientists. People from all disciplines, all communities, scientist and non-scientist will be involved.

NASA estimates that over 40,000 engineers, scientists, aviators, factory technicians dedicated a decade of their working lives to the moon landing. So even though Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are famous for being the first to make those first steps on the moon, they represent only 0.0005% of the entire Apollo 11 team.

So they had a mission. And that mission connected all of these different people to a common goal.

That’s what we want for Europe. So now, for the first time ever, scientific missions will be written in black and white in our legislation.

Our third pillar is about a radical shift in how we do innovation.

As I said, excellence in science is our strength. But turning that science into innovation is not.

Radical change is needed.

We need to do more to support breakthrough, market-creating innovation and set a path to become a global innovation powerhouse.

Our innovation funding needs to be fast and flexible and it needs to help innovators in a bottom-up way. And that is why we are creating a European Innovation Council. We want the EIC to do for innovation what the ERC has done for top researchers.

One of the most significant developments in the EIC is the introduction of one-on-one interviews. We want to meet the innovators, hear their stories and ideas first-hand, and identify the next generation of European innovators who have the kind of tenacity and passion Europe needs, and those who are not afraid to fail.

Some of the most game-changing innovations now and throughout history happen at the intersection of disciplines.

Think of a light bulb. In 1879 Thomas Edison united different nationalities and disciplines into one remarkable team. He brought together an English machinist, a Swiss clockmaker, a German glassblower and an American mathematician to discover the secret of electric light.

On the 22nd October the team cracked it and the world’s first light bulb was invented. But it would never have been possible without melting the boundaries of disciplines.

With the innovators in the driving seat, we won’t be fitting them into a mould. We want to find the next lightbulb team. We want them to be tell us how to do innovation. Encourage them to combine disciplines. And that is our goal with the new European Innovation Council.

Horizon 2020 is funding complex collaborations across nations. It is a programme that already produced a lot of excellent science and innovation, which drive prosperity and which will continue to bear fruit in the future. And I am incredibly proud of it. Because we are not compromising on excellence.

Horizon Europe won’t either. Because excellence does not exist in some countries and not others. There are pockets of excellence everywhere. So it makes no sense to move from one country to another. Instead, we want to grow them. To diffuse it across our Union.

Researchers must know that they have been awarded a Horizon Europe project because they are the best. Not because of the country they come from. This focus on excellence is even more important in countries like Poland.

At lot has been done here already: Horizon 2020 allocates more than 800 million euro through its Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation pillar to help boost excellence in institutes located in low R&I performing Members States. And Jerzy Europe owes so much to you for this. Your determination to spread scientific excellence in Europe made it a reality.

Horizon 2020 a great start, but in Horizon Europe we are proposing to go even further. Our aim is for spreading excellence to have the biggest relative increase in the entire proposal.

This, and the other parts of the proposal I’ve talked about mean we have a lot of work to do in the months again. If we stick to our guns with this level of ambition, I believe that Europe is in pole position for this next wave of technological innovation.

But each pillar of the new programme will not be enough alone. For Europe to lead the next wave of innovation, we need a new force of momentum. And that will come from a new form of industrial collaboration.

Standing here today in Katowice I know that industry is a very big part of the picture.

In my mind, I see it almost like the propeller of a plane, with three strong blades: the first is Science; the second is Start-ups; and the third is Industry.

  1. Science to develop the new ideas and technologies of the future.
  2. Start-ups and SME to develop the breakthrough innovations. Combining technologies and new business models.
  3. And industry to scale up innovations and create economic and social impact.

Without all three as strong components, we won’t have the lift-off we need for the future of innovation in Europe.

This next wave represents a unique opportunity for industry in Katowice, in Poland and for Europe.

We find ourselves now in a place where financial crisis is still in our short-term memory.

I know that some Member States are feeling the after effects more than others. This is exactly the reason why strengthening European science and innovation is so important. Now more than ever.

But we need your support in Poland – and the support of the whole European research and technology community – to make Horizon Europe the most ambitious programme yet.

To make sure our political leaders understand the importance of investing in research and innovation.

Now is the time to come together and push for the future of science and innovation in Europe.

Thank you.

Source and photo: EC