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European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

Neelie KROES

Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda

Open science, open society

European Intersectoral Summit on Research and Innovation, European Parliament

Brussels, 25 September 2014

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Science and technology can energise our economy and strengthen our society.

That is what I believe in; it is what the EU believes in. And Horizon 2020 is the proof, an 80 billion euro investment in European research and innovation. With a significant amount of that total spent in digital areas.

I don't want to talk about what research means for digital. I want to talk about what digital tools mean for research. What a move to open, digital science means for science, society, and all our citizens.

Over 3 in 4 citizens agree that science and technology are positive for society. But they are ever more curious to keep an eye on what that research is about.

People want to know what research means for them. What it means for society. About the consequences, negative and positive, and the impact on our way of life; how far and how fast change might happen.

And when public money is at stake, they want to know how their tax money is spent. They want dialogue and accountability.

Scientists can no longer simply innovate in their isolated ivory tower. But fortunately they don't have to.

Digital tools and technologies hold the answer. So you are exactly right to look at these issues.

They can make research and innovation not just better – but more open, collaborative and relevant.

You can use online platforms to discuss preliminary scientific results within hours. Open, informal review can complement traditional peer review.

And participation from scientists on new ideas can be complemented by the businesses and NGOs who will use them, the policymakers who will fund them, the citizens who will benefit from them.

This is a trend to open, digital science. And with it comes a new kind of digital citizen: with more access to information than ever before, empowered to shape their world like never before, able not just to learn from science but to participate in it. Science that is more open, more accessible, more relevant, with more impact.

Open Access makes research results publicly and freely available. It's good for scientists, good for citizens and good for society. And that is why every publication from Horizon 2020 funding will be available in this way.

But that is just the beginning. I'd like to see citizens not just informed about scientific results, but involved and engaged right from the start.

"Citizen Science" means people having an active role in research at every stage: from setting goals, to analysis, to ensuring results are applied to the right challenges.

Better participation for improved impact, and science that delivers for society. That is the promise of open digital science – with implications for assessment, review, access and more.

And we continue to help scientists communicate, collaborate and share.

GEANT is the EU's ultra-high speed network connecting all Member State’s research and education networks. That means 50 million researchers and students in 10,000 institutions are getting speeds up to 500 Gigabits per second, using 50,000 km of optical fibre; more than enough to circle the earth.

Meanwhile our standardised WiFi technology, Edu-roam, across campuses in all of Europe is accessed 37 million times per month.

That matters for modern science. In today's digital, big data era. researchers need to collaborate with colleagues on the other side of the continent, or beyond; across multiple disciplines. To take information from sensors that are far apart. To exchange and manipulate massive amounts of data.

Of course – like any transition, there are issues to resolve and questions to answer. How to evaluate careers, modernise metrics, measure impact and importance, ensure and compare research quality and reward openness. Those questions are best addressed not by people like me – but by the community itself. But this is a community that wants to collaborate, wants to be open, and wants to serve society.

Science is just one of the aspects of our lives that is transforming thanks to digital. And scientists are not the only ones who stand to benefit from fast, pervasive broadband.

For every European, ICT is a tool for openness and opportunity, prosperity and progress. I want every citizen in love with their smartphone, for the right reasons, – and business in every field – to enjoy that boost.

Fast broadband, fast 4G, open networks, no roaming charges at all in Europe. More of the benefits of a connected continent, without barriers and borders.

That is the goal of our proposal for a telecoms single market. And this can't wait. President-elect Juncker has made clear he takes this project just as seriously. But we already have on the table the proposals to remove many of the most important single market barriers – barriers that stop us being a connected, competitive continent. In this Parliament and in the Council, you have the power to make those proposals a reality – so that science and every other sector besides can benefit from the open, digital boost.

Thank you.


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