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FCT and MCTES co-hosted Science Europe High Level Workshop on ERA

The 2020 edition of the annual High Level Workshop on ERA explored how research and innovation can contribute to the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and to societal resilience, in the context of an evolving research culture.

Heads of national research organisations, Ministers and Secretaries of State for research, and European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel met virtually today for the 12th annual Science Europe High Level Workshop on the European Research Area (ERA). Co-hosted by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology, and Higher Education (MCTES), the event explored how research and innovation (R&I) can contribute to the recovery from the crisis and to societal resilience, in the context of an evolving research culture.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Europe faces extraordinary health, economic, and social challenges. "The current global climate has pushed research organisations into a deep reflection on the role of ERA 20 years after its creation. We need to consider what changes in research culture must be urgently addressed and collectively develop a new vision for European R&I" explained Marc Schiltz, President of Science Europe. "This crisis has demonstrated, more than ever, the added value of co-operation - not only across disciplines, but also across sectors, stakeholders, and borders" added Helena Pereira, President of the Board of Directors of FCT.

"Portugal, as the next host of the European Union's Council Presidency, is committed to facilitate discussions between Europe's leading research organisations to better understand the challenges we are facing" said Manuel Heitor, Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education. "Dealing with uncertainty, risk, and ignorance about the future, which the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 so promptly came to warn us about is, in fact, the design of all modern societies and the best we can pass on to future generations. It requires learning more and strengthening collaborative research towards new frontiers of knowledge, while promoting better research careers in Europe, thus upholding ERA's future in a fast and competitive international landscape."

"Deepening these issues is increasingly relevant as this new coronavirus has passed from animals to humans and although this process is far from known, we know that zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, have been increasing due to the pressure that our societies and their economic development exercise in nature. It is a clear manifestation of the unbalanced influence of human beings on Earth, which is also expressed through climate change. Now, the possible scientific demonstration of these relations with the pandemic with which we now live requires more knowledge to be able to ask more accurate and difficult questions and better understand the risks we run, as well as to evolve in this new geological era of the 'Anthropocene'," further highlighted Heitor.

Other keynotes speakers included Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, UKRI's Chief Executive, who addressed the evolution of research culture, and Helena Pereira, who addressed ways to enhance research collaboration and multidisciplinary research by breaking silos. The final ministerial session welcomed the participation of Commissioner Gabriel who presented the European Commission's plan for the new European Research Area and called for collaboration to realise this ambitious project. The Commissioner was followed by the interventions of Ministers and senior ministry officials from Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Portugal on developing research policies for a more resilient European society.

The outcomes of this workshop will contribute to the implementation of the research and innovation policy priorities of the German Presidency of the EU Council (including the anticipated Council Conclusions on ERA), and inform those of the following Portuguese and Slovenian presidencies.