2020 in a nutshell

2020 was definitely a landmark year. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically highlighted how vulnerable Europe is regarding health safety. The outbreak also entailed a major challenge for organisations and all citizens, both in Europe and around the world. Many research institutes – amongst them our members - and universities responded in full force and acted promptly to serve society and help to find solutions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. The scale of collaboration and sharing of best practices or research findings at both national and international level has been impressive. Within EU-LIFE, a new task force focusing on COVID-19 responses – diagnosis, research and institutional organisation - was initiated to help our institutes tackle the urgent needs of citizens, health sector and researchers through exchange of knowledge and practices.

Despite the context, the EU-LIFE alliance continued to contribute to EU research and innovation policy throughout the year. We followed the busy European agenda closely, in particular the EU negotiations on the multi-annual financial framework 2021-2027 and the Brexit deal, with a series of statements, position papers, one-to-one meetings, letters and participation at key events. In the interest of addressing the needs of European citizens, we contributed our views on how to ensure health safety in Europe through a long-term vision of better coordination among European countries. In 2020, the European Commission gave a new direction to the European Research Area, which we welcomed, in line with our previous contributions to ERA strategy.

We were also able to develop the majority of actions planned for sharing good practices and involvement of institutes in joint projects through the EU-LIFE working groups in a bottom-up approach, complemented by task forces, a top-down approach to implement specific initiatives.

2020 was also the year of the official expansion of the alliance with the enrolment of two new partners, IIMCB in Poland and IMBB-FORTH in Greece, who enthusiastically started participating in ongoing projects. Strengthening the office team, we also recruited the EU-LIFE project and policy officer, who joined EU-LIFE in July.

Most importantly, this year showed us how strong we are together even if unable to move across Europe. It also motivated us even more to stand up for science and its impact in improving people’s lives globally. We dedicate this additional drive to Michael Wakelam, Director of The Babraham Institute and member of the EU-LIFE Board of Directors, who died as a result of complications from suspected COVID-19 infection early in 2020. Michael was an enthusiastic scientist who was instrumental in building the EU-LIFE alliance as it is today. Your legacy will always be with us Michael.

René Medema, Chair of EU-LIFE
Marta Agostinho, EU-LIFE Coordinator

Find the full report here.

2020 EU-LIFE Highlights