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Mission-Oriented Research & Innovation in the European Union - A problem-solving approach to fuel innovation-led growth

Professor Mariana Mazzucato has published in February 2018 a report on behalf of the European Commission (DG Research & Innovation) to put the stress on the necessity to define missions in order to achieve projects close to the strategic recommendations guiding the 9th European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The report underlines the need to bring together smart innovation-led growth, inclusion and sustainability through a missions-driven approach.

Giving the current challenges that EU has to face, dynamic interventions and new form of collaborations have to be strengthen. To this end, Mariana Mazzucato insists on the central role that experimentation and dialogue between fundamental and applied research have to play. The actors have to apply a problem-solving approach in order to achieve policies and economic goals. Missions are helping to define opportunities and only opportunities can attract private investments. 

These missions should follow five key criteria:

  • Being bold, inspirational with wide societal relevance
  • Having a clear direction targeted, measurable and time-bound
  • Having ambitious but realistic research and innovation actions
  • Crossing disciplines, sectors and innovation actors
  • Presenting a bottom-up approach of multiple solutions.

Examples are provided in the report to give an idea on how missions should be defined and implemented. The European Commission has defined the clear and measurable mission to develop ‘100 Carbon neutral cities by 2030’. To achieve this mission, construction materials and real estate are identified as key areas of interests. In this sector, R&I projects should focus on buildings with carbon-absorbing components.  

The report stresses the need to have a cross-disciplinary, cross-sector and cross-actor innovation. Furthermore, projects need to underline the central role of societal implication of their missions, which are directing impacting citizens’ life and uses. Benefits are accountable in many sectors, including growth and employment.

The report can be downloaded from the EU Publications website here.

It is the latest in a series of inputs the Commission will consider in shaping the post-Horizon 2020 EU research and innovation framework programme. 

Source: ECTP Secretariat