Changing the Research Landscape with FET

Being the H2020 National Delegate for FET, Dr. Daniela Corda tells us her experience in science policy, and how this influences the way we build research and innovation ecosystems both at a national level and a European level


Dr Daniela Corda is permanent member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and Academia Europaea. As well as an  active  cell  biologist,  she has served as a member of several international advisory boards and selection committees, including the European Research Council (ERC) and the  Federation of the European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) among others. She  is  a  member of the genSET Science Leaders Panel, and currently the Delegate of Italy for Horizon 2020  (ERC,  MSCA,  FET   Configurations) of the European Commission as well as CoChair of the Board of Funders for the FLAGERA program (FET-H2020).


As a H2020 National Delegate for FET, describe how this role works into the FET research landscape?

FET has been a successful programme, articulated in the FET Open, Proactive and Flagship programmes. Each programme has requested a specific interaction with the national scientific community: FET Proactive for example,  has required a  collection  of  information to bring to the FET Programme Com- mittee the main areas of interest of our Member State, in my case Italy . This has been important to facilitate the Italian participation in the program. FET Open has seen an important participation and success of the  Italian  community,  thus  as delegate I have tried to promote (and obtain more funds for) this specific pro- gram . The construction of the Flagships has involved again the delegation both in the preparatory actions and in the ERA- NET funding and managing, also through the activity of the Board of Funders.


What is the best thing about being a National Delegate?

Well, as an active scientist, I have realised several years ago that science policy has to be part of our interests; it  is also an important way to create links, a dialogue, between the scientific community and the policy makers. I have been involved in several ways in science policy, in recent years as Italian delegate. As such, I have enjoyed the interactions and friendship with other European delegates, colleagues across Europe, as well as the frequent contact with our scientific community and with members of the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR).


And the worst thing about being a National Delegate?

I usually enjoy what I do, thus I do not have specific criticisms. Certainly being a delegate requires dedication, and takes time, which I tried not to subtract from my scientific interests and my laboratory. I mostly spent my weekends preparing for the FET Programme Committee or answering emails and reading papers related to FET. As a consequence, my “free time” was much reduced, which sometime can be a burden.


How does your National Delegate work with the FET Flagships?

As a delegate I have contributed to several meetings in preparation for the Italian contribution to Flagships, in particular to the Human Brain Project. I have participated in the national meetings, then as elected co-chair of the BoF, I have organized together with the Commission the BoF meeting and discussed the organization (governance, calls etc) of the flagships. Last, together with colleagues at the MIUR I analyzed and presented the results of the consultations for new flagships, then followed by the definition of the six CSA that should identify future flagships (or similar actions) in Horizon Europe.


What would you like to see in the future of FET research and policy?

I believe that there are several actions discussed in the last decades, very important for the scientific community, but never really implemented. This is not specific to FET, but it affects all programmes. We have discussed about having the ‘best-science’ driven community, but the circulation of researchers in Europe is not easy at all. The “researcher visa” is still on its way, never really implemented. I believe that to build an effective European Research Area, Europe has to become a federation (at least for the development of research and innovation) with no borders, same laws for social security, retirement, family benefits, similar education and degree definition etc. I could quote other examples, but this is the Europe I wish to see one day, hopefully soon.


This is one of the interviews which is now available in FETFX’s latest publication, Voices of the Future


Cover photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash