Strategic Research and Innovation Agendas

All future European Partnerships under Horizon Europe have to develop a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) or a Roadmap before their launch in order to ensure that the long-term vision is translated into concrete roadmaps with smart and measurable objectives. The following set of questions and answers aim to support the ongoing SRIA preparation process of the EU R&I partnership community, based on the valuable experience of developing SRIAs by the existing networks. Although these guidelines build mostly on experiences with public-public partnerships, it strives to support all types of Partnerships (also those with industry). Development of SRIA requires (just like any other R&I strategy) a solid strategy process with good planning, evidence-base, and co-design/consultation.

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What is a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda?

The Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda is a partnership’s strategy document, which identifies the partnership’s targeted impact, foreseen portfolio of activities, measurable expected outcomes, resources, deliverables, and milestones within a defined timeframe.
A SRIA should be able to translate the vision of the partnership in a long-term systemic approach to define the logic, rationales and principles of its operations also involving dealing with emerging uncertainties. In this sense it offers a framework towards operationalization and for further decision making regarding joint actions.

A SRIA is the result of a structured process undertaken and agreed upon by the partners in order to link the mission and vision of the partnership with a more substantial planning that provides the basis for an annual or multi-annual workplan of the partnership. The SRIA is set out to define the long-term logic of actions to be undertaken by the partnership to reach its ultimate goals given the resources that will be committed by partners for the course of operations. We might think of a SRIA as a research and innovation master plan towards the achievement of the vision of the partnership.

A key feature that distinguishes all European Partnerships from other collaborative research instruments is the focus on the development of Strategic Research and Innovation Agendas (SRIA) that are co-designed and committed to by all partners in the partnership. It places European Partnerships in a unique position to address complex and multi-faceted challenges such as the ones defined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Addressing these challenges requires more than the development of a single (technological) solution, they must be built on holistic/systemic, inter-and transdisciplinary programmes to support transformational change. (Weber, K. M., & Rohracher, H. (2012). Legitimizing research, technology and innovation policies for transformative change: Combining insights from innovation systems and multi-level perspective in a comprehensive ‘failures’ framework. Research Policy, 41(6), 1037-1047.)

What should be taken into account when developing SRIA under the new conditions and criteria for Horizon Europe partnerships?

Under Horizon Europe, European Partnerships are expected to be strategic and impact-oriented and contribute to European policy objectives. A partnership also requires a strong commitment and sense of ownership from all partners. It should also actively seek complementarities and synergies with other relevant European Partnerships and programmes at the EU and national/regional levels.

This needs to be accompanied by an open and inclusive approach to R&I agenda setting with extensive stakeholder consultation process, as well as active and early involvement of Member States.

A key element for meeting the various expectations is through the development of a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda. For example, clear impact-orientation can be achieved by developing concrete objectives and targets with KPIs and resources to match these. Synergies and societal take-up can be ensured via more active involvement of Member States and other relevant stakeholder from all countries in the early stages of strategy development.

The SRIA is a precondition to launch a European Partnership and needs to be agreed with the EC. It has to be sufficiently detailed to build the basis for the drafting of work programmes. Moreover, it has specific obligations related to monitoring, evaluations, access to data and phasing out (for more information see: Article 8 and Annex III).

The key documents for European Partnerships are:

  • A draft proposal prepared by partners that describes the ambition, general and specific objectives, implementation and resource aspects
  • Legal form of the European Partnership (Memoranda of understanding for co-programmed, grant agreement for co-funded and basic act for Article 185/7 initiatives)
  • SRIA or a multiannual roadmap for setting specific goals and objectives of the partnership and to define the (process for prioritizing) research and innovation activities that need to be performed to achieve these objectives
  • Annual work plans / programmes through which SRIA / roadmaps of R&I priorities are being implemented.