European efforts to solve major societal challenges

European efforts to solve major societal challenges

By Ingemar Pongratz

Crete 2020 by Ingemar Pongratz

Crete 2020 by Ingemar Pongratz

The new European research and innovation programme Horizon Europe is now formally ongoing. The Horizon Europe programme was officially launched at an online launch event that took place Feb 2. Presentation and speakers at this event included among others

  • The Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education & Youth
    • Ms Mariya Gabriel
  • The Chair for the European Parliament ITRE Committee
    • Mr Cristian Silviu Busoi
  • Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine Richard Roberts
    • Professor Richard Roberts
  • The Director General of DG RTD
    • Jean Eric Paquet
  • The Vice President of the European Investment Bank
    • Ms Teresa Czerwinska

During this session the European Commission introduced the concept of Missions. The Concept of missions are to address pressing societal challenges using a comprehensive approach. Pascal Lamy (Chair of the Mission for Healthy Oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters) presented the mission concept in general and stated that mission are policy actions closely linked with science and innovation.

The missions have three purposes, namely to:

  • Accelerate delivery of solutions on major societal challenges
  • Put science and innovation at the heart of the required transformations
  • Engage citizens to participate in science and innovation

The key words are Acceleration, Innovation and Participation. The current stage of the mission will proceed through a pilot phase where 5 mission areas will be addressed

These areas include

  • Adaptation to climate change
  • Cancer
  • Climate-neutral and smart cities
  • Healthy hydrosphere Oceans
  • Soil Health and food

The planning of these missions started already during the Horizon 2020 programme. The work will be objective driven where the Missions have set goals to be achieved in 2030.

The work is currently ongoing to develop activities how to reach the goals set up during the preparatory phase. As an example, the Soil health and Food mission set up the objective that by 2030 at least 75% of all soils in Europe should be healthy for food, citizens, nature and the environment. To reach this objective the proposed actions include a combination of research & innovation activities (living labs) and also communication activities (lighthouses) to showcase the achievements and good practices.

The work will combine an applied research approach to ensure that results will be translated into policy and tangible actions.

The European Commission is currently in the process of translating the objectives and actions identified by the Missions into an implementation plan. This plan which will include calls and projects is expected to be presented in the Horizon Europe Work Plan that is to be released later 2021.

The Mission concept is very interesting, and Pascal Lamy highlighted the positive response from the European Public in the Mission concept. He argues the high level of engagement from the European general public is a direct result of the mission addressing problems that are easy to understand and at the heart of the European public. Since the public understands the problem they become engaged in the discussion.

It is interesting to note the key role of innovation and communication in the mission concept. The translation of research results from Academia requires participation of industry. In addition, adoption of novel, research-based products and services requires an informed public.

In addition, it is important to note that the missions cover key societal challenges. The solutions to solve the climate change should include new solution, products and services that are both efficient and also adopted by the general public.


Ingemar Pongratz is a founder of Fenix Scientific AB / Pongratz Consulting. In addition, Ingemar Pongratz founded Letavis AB. Letavis AB is a research intensive company that develops new climate and environmentally friendly solutions for the agricultural sector. Thorugh Pongratz Consulting, we help universities and enterprises to identify and apply for European project funding. If you wish to learn more about our different services please visit the online contact form for Pongratz Consulting or Letavis AB

Chania 2020 by Ingemar Pongratz

Chania 2020 by Ingemar Pongratz