“The 7th EU Framework Programme (FP7) was one of the largest RTD programmes in the world. It accounts for the third largest share of the European Union (EU) budget and was the main financial instrument to build the European Research Area. FP7 was thus a major investment in knowledge, innovation and human capital in order to increase the potential for economic growth and to strengthen European competitiveness.
This strong commitment to a European added value in research and innovation helped to build up excellent research networks, achieving outcomes faster and addressing problems from a range of perspectives, disciplines and research cultures. It is widely accepted in the business, science and education communities that, without this commitment, Europe would run the risk of losing a lot of excellent science and undermine its competitive position in innovation. It is widely accepted that a strong commitment to financing research and innovation as a long‐term investment is an indispensable condition for success and that coherence is a prerequisite for the design and implementation of effective and efficient policies and programmes. FP7 covered different themes and disciplines, addressed different stages of research and innovation chains and involved a broad diversity of stakeholders and societal groups. Given this broad scope, coherence within the programme and among its components was key. Furthermore, coherence with other policies and programmes at an EU‐level (e.g. the structural funds, growth and competitiveness policies) and at Member State level (e.g. national science and innovation programmes) is necessary to establish effective policy mixes. Following the principles of good governance regular evaluations play an important role in assessing coherence and ensuring that high impacts of publicly funded programmes materialise.
The findings and conclusions presented in this report are based on a range of sources of evidence. These include the programme structure of FP7, the EC budget allocations to different types of organisations and different regions, the success rates of proposals and the collaboration networks established by FP7 evaluated on the basis of CORDIS data (the Community Research and Development Information System) and partly confidential data provided by DG R&I (e.g. proposal data). Another important source was the 120+ reports of evaluation studies that were contracted by DG R&I and carried out by a number of professional evaluators and experts. For the first time, these evaluation reports were assembled in a structured repository that enabled synthesis of the evaluation findings from different sources. In addition, more than 50 experts from the EU Member States, the European Commission, umbrella organisations and national contact points were consulted.
Last but not least, this report builds on the knowledge, experiences and expertise of the members of this High Level Expert Group. It also draws on the findings and recommendations of the FP7 mid‐term evaluation and addresses several new issues from an ex‐post perspective. Some impacts can already be assessed using quantitative data while many others can only be evaluated from a qualitative perspective or haven’t yet fully materialised to the extent that this evaluation could provide final conclusions. In these latter two cases a triangulation of different sources was used to provide an indication of trends and future pathways. After presenting the facts, figures and main achievements of FP7, this executive summary highlights the five key recommendations of the High Level Expert Group. More in‐ depth analyses and elaborations on the recommendations can be found in the full version of this report.”