Senior Adviser for Open Access and Innovation

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, Robert-Jan has to propose concrete policy recommendations to ensure that by 2020 all publicly funded scientific publications are available in Open Access.

Prior to joining the EPSC, 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).

Career Highlights

  • One of the main architects and negotiators of Horizon 2020, the 80 billion EU programme for science and innovation (2014-2020).
  • 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.
  • 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.

Academic Highlights

  • degree from Utrecht University in The Netherlands
  • degree from Institut Universitaire d’Hautes Etudes Internationales in Switzerland
  • degree from Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy in the United States of America
  • 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
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