Destination unknown: EU research missions must be able to change course as their questions evolve

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Abstract

Policymakers are increasingly drawn to the idea of transformative innovation policy. This takes the form of setting overarching strategic initiatives that include and enable deep changes to social, technological and economic systems. Part of this includes the turn in research agendas towards tackling grand societal challenges and meeting sustainable development goals.

Recently, this transformative turn has led to an interest in mission-oriented approach to research policy at both national and EU levels. With Horizon Europe's missions, the EU stands poised to make big, long-term, top-down commitments in science and technology, as part of a transformative approach to innovation involving both social and technical interventions.

The traditional image of a mission is as a moon-shot – set a target, and go for it. But for most potential research missions, in areas such as climate change or public health, the questions cannot be defined in advance. This means that being highly prescriptive at an early stage about what research should be done and what it should achieve risks failure. There’s a strong case for a more tentative approach to policymaking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-12
Number of pages1
JournalResearch Europe
Issue number497
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2019

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