Research involves imagining the future and wrestling with the issues that it throws up

The chair of the ALLEA Working Group Framework  Programme 9 and lead author of ALLEA’s position paper “Developing a Vision for Framework Programme 9”, Professor John Bell, reflects on the EU’s future research and innovation programme after Horizon 2020 and elaborates on ALLEA’s recommendations on the topic. Professor Bell (Fellow of the British Academy) is a comparative lawyer who specialises in French and German law, jurisprudence (especially legal reasoning), public law and European law. He is currently Professor of Law at the University of Cambridge and has previously worked at the Universities of Oxford and Leed

Which is the most important aspect that policy-makers should consider in the development of the next EU research and innovation programme?

JOHN BELL: Policy-makers should seek to look into the middle distance: what is Europe and the world going to be like by 2040 and how do we prepare ourselves to engage with the opportunities and problems which that future poses. Many of the calls for research under Horizon 2020 have been driven by rather immediate preoccupations for which the Commission was looking for answers. That is consultancy, not research. Research involves imagining the future and wrestling with the issues that it throws up.

ALLEA’s FP9 working group’s position paper points out that the next framework programme must incentivise “impact focused on European societies not just economic or industrial benefit”. Could you elaborate which types of “impact focused on European societies” FP9 should specifically address?

J.B.: Innovation can be understood simply in terms of new products that will create new jobs and increase wealth. That is only part of the picture. European societies want a quality of life that comes from a tolerant living together in solidarity with those who are disadvantaged throughout the world. Such conviviality is the result not only of economic growth, but of caring for the environment, designing our cities, ensuring healthcare and welfare for the vulnerable in society, and promoting social integration of citizens, migrants and visitors.

How could the Societal Challenges pillar in Framework Programme 9 be more prominently developed and how would the role of researchers have to be adapted accordingly?

J.B.: We need first to identify the challenges that lie ahead. Horizon 2020 has rather a top-down approach to identifying these challenges and is very prescriptive about their content. The process needs more imagination to come from researchers who can suggest different themes to be explored. We also need to bring together the insights of different disciplines into reflection on these issues. Natural and biological scientists will bring insights from replicable trials. Humanities will bring insights from imagination and history, thinking through issues in hypothetical futures. Social sciences can bring forms of modelling to help us anticipate problems that may occur. Working together they can give a holistic view of what the future might be like and how to engage with opportunities and problems.

What are the most relevant contributions and/or shortcomings of the recently published Lamy Report?

J.B.: Lamy provides an important vision of how to develop research beyond 2020. Lamy recognises the importance of research and the need for a substantial commitment of funding. It recognises the important contribution of humanities and social sciences research to a holistic approach to problems. Lamy also recognises that ‘innovation is more than technology’ and that the contribution to society, as well as to the economy is important. Lamy’s approach to missions for research is far less detailed and prescriptive than Horizon 2020. At the same time, the indicative topics it suggests on p. 16 is too much focused on medical and technological developments. The broad topic of how we live together would encourage a wider range of issues to be addressed. ALLEA will be working with colleagues in other organisations to produce suggestions in time for the Lamy Group to review the feedback it has received in early 2018.

This interview was published in ALLEA’s Newsletter #12 (August 2017).

SAPEA vacancy: Senior Scientific Policy Officer

SAPEA is advertising a vacancy for a full-time Senior Scientific Policy Officer, located in Brussels, Belgium.

Further details can be found below:

Senior Scientific Policy Officer (code number 45/2017)

Application deadline: September 22, 2017
For the EU-funded project SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) acatech is seeking a full-time Senior Scientific Policy Officer (SSPO).

Starting date: as soon as possible
Duration: Until the end of the project October 31, 2020 with the possibility of extension in case a second project phase will be achieved.
Location: acatech Brussels office, Belgium

Contract and salary: In accordance with the German labour agreement for public services (TVöD, Grade 15), under a Belgian contract. The monthly basic gross salary for this vacancy ranges from EUR 5,676 to 6,480 (based on a 12 months calculation); according to the appointed candidate’s level of work experience and additional aspects, for example, the national social security system which has to be used. The Belgian rules for vacation time and the European holiday rules apply. In addition 10 leave days/year will be provided by acatech. Travel within the EU is expected.

About the SAPEA project:
The EU-project SAPEA consists of a Consortium of the five European Academy Networks Academia Europaea, ALLEAEASACEuro-CASE and FEAM. Spanning the disciplines of engineering, humanities, medicine, natural sciences and social sciences, SAPEA brings together the outstanding knowledge and expertise of Fellows from over 100 Academies, Young Academies and Learned Societies in more than 40 countries across Europe. Fellows provide their knowledge and expertise on a voluntary basis. SAPEA is part of the European Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM), which provides independent, interdisciplinary and evidence-based scientific advice on policy issues to the European Commission. SAPEA works closely with the SAM High Level Group of Scientific Advisors (HLG). Furthermore the SAPEA project aims to strengthen cooperation and to foster synergies between the Academy Networks and their Member Academies, as well as to enhance existing structures. The project is funded through a grant from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. It runs until October 31, 2020.

About acatech:
acatech – the National Academy of Science and Engineering – is the voice of the technical sciences in Germany and abroad. As a working Academy, acatech supports policymakers and society by providing qualified technical evaluations and forward-looking recommendations. acatech acts as Coordinator of the SAPEA project and will, on behalf of the project Consortium, employ the Senior Scientific Policy Officer (SSPO).

Tasks and Responsibilities:
The SSPO will be a leading expert in the field of independent science-based policy advice. He/she will be responsible for the strategic development and facilitation of SAPEA’s science-for-policy activities and is accountable to the SAPEA Board, whose core membership comprises the Presidents of the Academy Networks. He/she will take primary responsibility for the Rapid Response Mechanism, which provides fast links between requests from the European Commission (EC) and the existing knowledge within the Academy networks. He/she will act as the Chair of a team of 5 SAPEA Scientific Policy Officers (SPOs), who are employed by the respective Academy Networks and who mostly conduct the work on SAPEA’s science-for-policy projects. He/she will be a member of the project’s Coordination Team, working in close cooperation with the Executive Directors of the Academy Networks, the project Coordinator, and the Head of Communications to take joint decisions on procedural and conceptual matters. He/she will have direct access to the Board and will be a standing invitee to meetings of the SAPEA Board. He/she will participate in meetings between the SAPEA Board and the HLG to develop strategic approaches to science-for-policy projects.

The tasks and responsibilities of the SSPO include, among others:

  • Strategic development and facilitation of science-for-policy projects mostly conducted by the team of SPOs
  • Taking primary responsibility for project leadership within the Rapid Response Mechanism, which provides fast access to existing knowledge within the Academy Networks
  • Collaborate closely with the SAM Unit and High-Level Group regarding scientific topics, procedures and timelines
  • Chairing the team of SPOs and working closely with them to facilitate and support their activities
  • Organising a first assessment of scoping papers from the High-Level Group with the SAPEA Board
  • Maintaining ties and organising meetings regarding topic-driven activities with various representatives of the EC, other European bodies such as the European Parliament (incl. STOA), institutions involved in SAM, and selected stakeholders.


Additional SSPO tasks that are partially shared by the SPOs are, amongst others:

  • Drafting scoping papers, project outlines for scientific topics, work and budget plans
  • Organising and participating in working-group meetings with Academy Fellows, external experts, and EC representatives
  • Facilitating and possibly conducting reviews of scientific literature and other evidence
  • Possibly conducting structured expert interviews or scientific writing,
  • Horizon-scanning activities to identify and inform potential future scientific topics for SAPEA,
  • Organising and managing an independent peer-review process for SAPEA products,
  • Supporting the dissemination activities of the SAPEA Communications Office

Profile, skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications:

  • At least 10 years of experience in the field of science-based policy advice in a European framework or in EU science management or EU science policy projects.
  • A Master’s Degree coupled with other relevant post-graduate work experience or other qualification, a PhD qualification would be highly desirable,
  • Excellent knowledge of the science-policy interface at European level,
  • Excellent organisational and management skills
  • Proven experience in delivering scientific or science-based publications of the highest quality,
  • Strong interpersonal skills, with experience in building and maintaining strong working relationships with a range of internal and external stakeholders across Europe,
  • Proven ability to facilitate the work of a team
  • Proven experience in managing projects with leading scientists and other experts
  • Clear and confident communication skills, with the ability to communicate complex scientific issues to different target audiences,
  • Excellent oral and written proficiency in English (equivalent to native speaker level), working knowledge of German is an asset
  • An existing network of stakeholder contacts in the field of the science-policy interface and experience of working in an EU-funded project are an asset.
  • Experience of working with Academies is an asset.

If you are interested in applying for this position, please send your CV and motivation letter, together with details of two referees, to by September 22, 2017 (code number 45/2017, pdf- documents, not larger than 3 MB).
Candidates will be informed by the Selection Committee of its verdict by the end of September and the interviews for retained candidates will take place in Brussels in October. Travel expenses according to German law (BRKG) will be reimbursed. acatech reserves the right not to appoint.

acatech and SAPEA apply an equal opportunities policy and accept applications without distinction on the grounds of sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation.

For further information: (Horizon 2020 call, page 122 onwards.)

ALLEA publishes “The Role of Music in European Integration”

The second volume of the book series Discourses on Intellectual Europe will be presented at the ALLEA General Assembly in September and at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October

Just in time for the 2017 ALLEA General Assembly and the Frankfurt Book Fair, editor Professor Albrecht Riethmüller of the Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities has finished his compilation on “The Role of Music in European Integration: Conciliating Eurocentrism and Multiculturalism”, the second edition in the ALLEA book series on Discourses on Intellectual Europe, published by ALLEA.
The book, which is based on a workshop of the same title that took place at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, takes an in-depth look at the influence of music in moving Europe closer together, be it via European anthems or even more mundane things such as the Eurovision Song Contest.
The volume focuses on music during the process of European integration since the Second World War. Often music in Europe is defined by its relation to the concept of Occidentalism (Musik im Abendland; western music). The emphasis here turns rather to recent manifestations of its evolvement in ensembles, events, musical organisations and ideas; questions of unity and diversity from Bergen to Tel Aviv, from Lisbon to Baku; and deals with the tension between local, regional and national music within the larger confluence of European music. The status of classical and avante-garde music, and to a degree rock and pop, during Europe’s development the past sixty years are also reviewed within the context of eurocentrism – the domination of European music within world music, a term propagated by anthropologists and ethnomusicologists several decades ago and based on multiculturalism. Conversely, the search for a musical European identity and the ways in which this search has in turn been influenced by multiculturalism is an ongoing, dynamic process.
The delegates of ALLEA Member Academies as well as the participants of the ALLEA-AE joint conference in September in Budapest will get the chance to pick up a copy then. A wider audience will be introduced to the book at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, where it will form part of the exhibition “Books on France”, this year’s partner country of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The book is available from De Gruyter here