Horizon Europe: Mission to beat cancer
The new Commission under Dr Ursula von der Leyen is taking a firm stand against cancer. Rightly so – 1.3 million Europeans die from cancer each year despite 4 in 10 cancer cases being preventable. Every year 3.5 million cancer cases are diagnosed (often late) and this with only 3% of the health budgets of member states being spent on health promotion and disease prevention. At the current rate, cancer is costing Europe in excess of € 100 billion annually. Inaction will cause the number of cases to double by 2035 and the economic impact to soar.
Read more about the Horizon Europe Cancer Action Plan in this article.
The EC introduces their Cancer Action Plan
On 4 February 2020 World Cancer Day, the European Commission (EC) launched an open public consultation on Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. Starting in March, the feedback will be reported and targeted stakeholder consultations will take place culminating in a representative Cancer Action Plan to be adopted by the end of the year.
Four key areas based on Horizon 2020 outcomes
The four key areas of the Cancer Action Plan are prevention, diagnosis, treatment and quality of life of patients and survivors. These are the priority areas identified by citizens and experts alike. This is also based on the outcome of the current European research and innovation framework programme Horizon 2020 (H2020) which is ending this year. Under H2020, the Commission awarded € 1.2 billion for 980 projects.
Horizon Europe aims to deliver solutions to five mission areas
The Horizon Europe framework programme (FP9) beginning in 2021 comprises three key pillars and five mission areas. The research and innovation missions aim to deliver solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our world.
In addition to the focus on cancer, there are four other mission areas selected:
- Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation
- Healthy oceans, seas coastal and inland waters
- Climate-neutral and smart cities
- Soil health and food
Cancer mission board of fifteen experts
Aim: By joining efforts across Europe, more people would live without cancer, more cancer patients would be diagnosed earlier, would suffer less and have a better quality of life after treatment.
The cancer mission falls under Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety and Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. The mission board comprises fifteen experts from academia, industry, policymaking, civil society and relevant umbrella institutions (e.g. IARC – WHO).
Supported by a secretary and an assembly, the mission board is to provide advice on the scope of the mission area, the work programme and the policy coordination with the key stakeholders.
Achieving the mission
In order to achieve the goals of this ambitious mission, several key factors will need to be met and adapted into the work programmes that will drive the funding actions. These should include – but not be limited to:
- Supporting clinical research via an integrated, interoperable and widespread infrastructure of collaborative evidence-based innovative projects that focus on personalised medicine
- Commitment to building capacity in terms of research, specialised jobs & training, reference networks & disease information systems
- Allowing innovation to break through and be break-through by bolstering the creation and development of start-ups, SMEs, institutions, R&I spinouts & more.