Fabian Demicoli

€6.4 billion for smart growth and jobs – Europe’s biggest ever investment in research and innovation

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has announced nearly € 6.4 billion of European Commission investment in research and innovation. The package, the biggest ever, covers a vast range of scientific disciplines, public policy areas and commercial sectors. This funding will advance scientific boundaries, increase European competitiveness and help solve societal challenges such as climate change, energy and food security, health and an ageing population.

Around 16,000 participants from research organisations, universities and industry, including about 3,000 SMEs, will receive funding. Grants will be awarded through "calls for proposals" (invitations to bid) and evaluations over the next 14 months. It is expected this will create more than 165.000 jobs. It is also a long-term investment in a smarter, sustainable and more inclusive Europe. It is a key element within the EU's Europe 2020 Strategy and in particular the Innovation Union Flagship, which will be launched in autumn 2010.

Top priority is given to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME), the backbone of the European innovation system, representing 99% of all European businesses. SMEs, will receive close to €800 million and for the first time, there will be ringfenced budgets in several areas. For example, in health, knowledge-based bioeconomy, environment and nanotechnologies SME participation must reach 35 % of the total budget for a number of topics.

Background

The budget for the Seventh Framework Programme calls for proposals in 2011 is €6.4 billion, up 12% in comparison to 2010 (€5.7 billion) and 30% in comparison to 2009 (€4.9 billion).

The Seventh Framework Programme is the largest single research programme in the world, with a budget of more than € 50.5 billion, excluding Euratom – for 2007-2013.

By adopting the Europe 2020 strategy, Europe's political leaders have put research and innovation at the top of the European political agenda, making it the cornerstone of investment in sustainable growth and jobs.

The calls for proposals announced will feed in to Europe's Innovation Union Flagship, which Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn will launch in autumn 2010. This initiative is central to the Europe 2020 Strategy, and aims to boost the whole innovation chain "from research to retail", by marrying world-class science with an innovation economy or "i-conomy". It will remove bottlenecks which hamper a single market in innovation and which prevent Europe competing as well as it should with the US and others.

It will also introduce "Innovation Partnerships" bringing together the main actors in key areas and aiming to strike the right balance between collaboration and competition.

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