Linda Nordling
Mr Robert-Jan Smits
Ahmed Bawa
Faranah Osman

Mr Robert-Jan Smits

Robert-Jan Smits is the Open Access Envoy of the European Commission, based at the European political Strategy Centre (EPSC) of the European Commission. In this capacity, he has to propose concrete policy recommendations to ensure that by 2020 all publicly funded scientific publications are available in Open Access.

Before this, he was from 2010-2018 the Director-General of DG Research and Innovation (RTD) at the European Commission. In this capacity he was responsible for defining and implementing the EU policy and programmes in the field of research and innovation (average annual budget 8 billion euro).

Mr Smits was one of the main architects and negotiators of Horizon 2020, the 80 billion EU programme for science and innovation (2014-2020). He also is the main architect of Horizon Europe, the successor programme (2021-2027) for which the European Commission has made a 100 billion euro proposal.

Mr Smits has also been instrumental in the development of several policy initiatives in the field of European science and innovation such as: the European Research Council (ERC), the European Roadmap for large scale facilities, Public-Private Partnerships in research, the Innovation Union, the European Research Area (ERA) and Open Science.

In his previous capacity Mr Smits was chairing several high-level committees such as European Research Area Committee (ERAC), the Steering Committee of the ERC Executive Agency (ERCEA), the Executive Committee of GEO (Global Initiative on Earth Observations) and joint S&T committees with Europe’s key global partners.

He has received several recognitions and awards for his contribution to European Science and innovation, including an honorary degree from Edinburgh University (2016), a life-time achievements award from EuroScience (2016), the Academy Medal from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017), the Excellence in Global Science award in South-Africa (2017), the Medal of Honour from KU Leuven (2018), and the Gold Medal from Academia Europaea (2018).

Previous assignments of Mr Smits at the European Commission were:

Deputy Director-General at the Joint Research Center (JRC) responsible for Strategic Programmes and Stakeholder Relations, Resource Management and three Institutes, being the Institute for Energy, the Institute for Environment and Sustainability and the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (2010).

Director for the European Research Area: ‘Research Programmes and Capacity’ at DG Research (Joint Programming, coordination of national research programmes, cooperation with intergovernmental research organisations (EIROforum, EUREKA, COST), Research Infrastructures, Regions of Knowledge, Research Potential and the relations with the European Investment Bank (EIB) (2005-2010).

Head of Unit ‘Strengthening cooperation in Research and the European Scientific Base’ in DG Research (2002-2005).

Before his assignments at the European Commission, Mr Smits worked at the Ministry of Economic Affairs in The Netherlands where he was dealing with international technology policy (1985-1989).

Mr Smits was born in The Netherlands. He has degrees from Utrecht University in The Netherlands, InstitutUniversitaired’Hautes Etudes Internationales in Switzerland and Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy in the United States of America.

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