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Research and innovation
Artikkel4. juuli 2019Teadusuuringute ja innovatsiooni peadirektoraat

Commission launches work on major research and innovation missions for cancer, climate, oceans and soil

Today, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas officially launched the work on five major European research and innovation missions that will be part of Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation programme. Inspired by the Apollo 11 mission to put a man on the moon, the European R&I missions aim to deliver solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our world, such as cancer, climate change, healthy oceans, climate-neutral cities and healthy soil and food.

At the occasion of the Informal Council for Research Ministers in Helsinki, Finland, Commissioner Moedas announced the appointment of five prominent experts to chair the mission boards, which will propose targets and timelines to design the specific missions.

Also today, Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Special Advisor for Mission Driven Science and Innovation to Commissioner Moedas, presented a new report: Governing Missions in the European Union’, which sets out what it takes to make missions a success.

Commissioner Moedas said:

I am excited to see the mobilisation of such high-profile people to help us solve our generation’s biggest challenges through research and innovation missions. The missions will be in good hands with the commitment, drive and leadership that these outstanding individuals will bring. The new report from Professor Mazzucato, who has already been such a decisive source of inspiration, will give us further insights into how we make the missions a success.

Professor Mariana Mazzucato said:

Mission-led thinking is a bold strategic approach, and it is encouraging that the European Commission has adopted this strategy in its five major research missions. But we should beware that without new capabilities and financing structures, missions will not reach their full potential. We need to reimagine government in the 21st century for missions to be successful. Public trust in the Government is low across Europe. It is up to public institutions to reform and put societal challenges at the heart of decision-making. Citizen engagement in this process is key.

Mission Board Chairs*

The Commission is establishing five ‘mission boards’. Their first deliverable will be to propose concrete targets and timelines for each mission by the end of 2019. They will be chaired by the following outstanding individuals who will contribute with their experience, authority and credibility: 

  1. Ms Connie Hedegaard, former European Commissioner for Climate Action, for the mission on ‘Adaptation to Climate Change including Societal Transformation’
  2. Professor Harald zur Hausen, Nobel Prize Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, for the mission on ‘Cancer’
  3. Mr Pascal Lamy, former Trade Commissioner and Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, for the mission on ‘Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters’
  4. Professor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, former Mayor of Warsaw, for the mission on ‘Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities’
  5. Mr Cees Veerman, former Dutch Agriculture Minister, for the mission on ‘Soil Health and Food’.   

*official membership is subject to finalisation of internal procedures.

Governing missions in the European Union

In her new report, Professor Mariana Mazzucato presents recommendations on three essential elements to deliver impactful missions in the European Union: How to engage citizens in missions; how to ensure that public organisations are optimally equipped to implement missions; and how to optimise finance and funding for missions.


As part of the EU's next long-term budget for 2021-2027, the Commission proposed on 7 June 2018 the next EU research and innovation programme Horizon Europe with a proposed budged of €100 billion. In April 2019, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament reached a political agreement on the programme on the basis of which the Commission has started preparing Horizon Europe’s implementation.

Missions are one of the main novelties of Horizon Europe. By addressing important societal challenges, such as cancer and climate change, through ambitious but realistic research and innovation activities, they will make clear to citizens how the EU can make a real difference in their lives and in society as a whole. They boost the impact of EU-funded research and innovation by mobilising investment and EU wide efforts around measurable and time-bound goals around issues that affect citizens’ daily lives. 

The current five mission areas were identified during the negotiations of the Horizon Europe programme. To narrow down the five broad mission areas, the Commission is appointing a mission board for each area. By the end of 2019, the mission boards will identify the first possible specific missions, with a concrete target and timeline. The boards will discuss with citizens, stakeholders and experts from Member States at the first European Research and Innovation Days in Brussels from 24 to 26 September.

Each mission board will consist of 15 experts, including the chair. Following a selection process, which produced over 2100 applications, the five mission boards will be composed of creative and highly motivated experts from a wide range of backgrounds, including academics, innovators, civil society, industry, finance and end-users. The Commission expects to announce the full composition of the mission boards by the end of July 2019.

The European Commission, through Commissioner Moedas, invited Professor Mazzucato to draw up strategic recommendations on the implementation of missions to maximise the impact of Horizon Europe. The new report ‘Governing Missions in the European Union’ includes recommendations on how to involve civil society and engage citizens in the innovation chain; how new modes and processes in the public sector can unleash creativity, enhance synergies and foster innovation ecosystems; and how public financing can crowd-in and galvanize other forms of investment. 

Professor Mazzucato’s first report for Commissioner Moedas, called ‘Mission-Oriented Research and Innovation in the European Union’ set out the main characteristics of mission-oriented research and innovation:

  • Bold, inspirational, with wide societal relevance;
  • Targeted, measurable, and time-bound;
  • Ambitious, but realistic R&I actions;
  • Cross-disciplinary, cross-sectoral and cross-actor innovation;
  • Drive multiple, bottom-up solutions.

Professor Mariana Mazzucato currently holds the Chair in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL). She is founder and director of UCL’s new Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. Her research covers the relationship between financial markets, innovation and economic growth.

More information


4. juuli 2019
Teadusuuringute ja innovatsiooni peadirektoraat