The opening ceremony of the largest interdisciplinary European scientific meeting, the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF), took place yesterday, Monday, July 9, at Toulouse’s Palais de Sports with a concert by the Toulouse Chamber Orchestra. A little later, the forum’s guest as well as the public attended a concert by the Capitol National Orchestra at one of the city’s parks.

Under the motto “Sharing Science: Towards New Horizons”, ESOF brings together 4,600 people from 85 countries: researchers, professionals, policymakers, entrepreneurs, journalists who will debate, question and discuss a great variety of topics ranging from scientific breakthroughs, to future technologies and their impact on society and research policies in Europe.

“These new horizons, it’s up to you to define them,” said Anne Cambon-Thomsen, research director at the CNRS, who is actively participating at the ESOF. In his speech at the opening ceremony, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Carlos Moedas, said that “without science, there is no knowledge and without knowledge, there is no democracy. You, as scientists, must make your voice heard so that politicians invest in research and basic science. ”

This morning, Carlos Moedas opened ESOF’s first plenary session with a keynote speech about the Horizon Europe program and the future European framework for research and innovation beyond Horizon 2020. Mr. Moedas focused on growing connectivity and growing distrust in science which “have changed the rules of the game”. “Horizon Europe must be more than a science program; it needs to be the cornerstone for a new ‘social contract’ between citizens, governments and science”.

Regarding funding he announced that: “We have proposed a budget of 100 billion euro for science and innovation in Horizon Europe. The biggest ever. And with that 100 billion euro we have three main objectives: Open Science, Open Innovation, Global Challenges”. Mr. Moedas also announced the creation of the European Innovation Council (EIC). “We must make a radical change when it comes to innovation and that is why we will set up the European Innovation Council. This is where innovators tell us the route they want to take. Not the other way around…The future of science will shift the lines of authority of European science and create a new connection between the government, the individual and science”.

Stem cells, plastic in the ocean, sustainable  and smart cities, autonomous vehicles and much more are some of the key issues being discusses today at ESOF 2018.