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Research and innovation
News article25 March 2021Directorate-General for Research and Innovation1 min read

Post-pandemic Europe: High-level expert group advises to learn from innovation and boost key ecosystems

In their second Policy Brief ‘Transformation post-COVID: Mobilising Innovation for People, Planet and Prosperity’, the independent ESIR expert group proposes a ‘protect-prepare-transform’ design approach that focusses on applying key learnings from the pandemic and ensuring transitions that are just and that embody the European Commission’s new social, green, and digital pathways for an innovative and resilient post-pandemic Europe.

In order to emerge from the current health emergency and ‘build forward better’, ESIR proposes that such a design approach builds on the European Green Deal, New European Bauhaus, NextGenerationEU and Horizon Europe to ensure recovery planning is implemented effectively, impactful and democratically, that Europe provides more directionality for systemic change, and that we foster more efficient research and innovation for the transformations ahead. This will entail radical innovation in approach, processes and methods of collaboration across governmental departments and levels, finance and industry sectors and communities. It should be encouraged through incentives, and reflected in conditions for the deployment of recovery funds and in project evaluation and selection. Such systemic change would require strengthening some of the key ecosystems for the post-pandemic economy. ESIR particularly stresses the role of cities and regions, of universities, and of industrial value chains, all of which further elaborated in three specific ESIR focus papers.

ESIR Chair Sandrine Dixson-Declève said:

The von der Leyen Commission had already expressed its willingness to move away from a purely growth-oriented paradigm, which was showing critical flaws in terms of economic, social and environmental sustainability before the pandemic. Now, at the onset of a second disruptive year, the pursuit of resilience, wellbeing and sustainable development must still be translated into a concrete set of guiding principles, investments and actions that would enable the EU and its Member States to ‘build forward better’. Europe’s new policies and funds must be stress-tested against a better understanding of the tensions inherent in our goal of protecting people, planet and prosperity simultaneously.


The Economic and Societal Impact of Research and Innovation (ESIR) group helps to design a forward-looking agenda that enables research and innovation policy to contribute to delivering on the political guidelines of President von der Leyen, notably the ‘European Green Deal’, ‘An economy that works for people’ and ‘A Europe fit for the digital age’. The group will initially run until 31 December 2021.


Publication date
25 March 2021
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation