European cash injection for innovation

The European Commission has announced plans to invest €22 billion (£19 billion) in public-private research and innovation projects over the next seven years.

July 10, 2013


European Union

The majority of the investment will go into five partnerships: working towards developing new medicines, making cleaner and quieter aircraft, expanding the use of fuel cells and hydrogen and within bio-based and electronics industries.

Of the €22 billion, announced by the commission on 10 July, a proposed €8 billion will come from the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. Around €10 billion has been committed from industry, and almost €4 billion will come from member states.

Three of the major projects are second phases of “joint technology initiatives” that are already underway: the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), Fuel Cells and Hydrogen and Clean Sky. The partnership in electronics will combine two current initiatives while the bio-based industries project is new.

The second round of IMI, which brings together academics with small biotech companies and pharmaceutical firms, will see its overall budget rise from €2 billion to €3.5 billion.

All types of research organisations can apply for funding under the scheme, and in the previous round higher or secondary education institutions made up between a fifth and a third of the organisations involved in each.

According to the commission, major changes have also been introduced to address the criticisms that the existing initiatives were overly complex and difficult to participate in.

The funding package also covers four additional public-public partnerships between the Commission and EU member states.

These are looking to develop new treatments against poverty-related diseases, develop measurement technologies for industrial competitiveness, support high-tech small- and medium-sized businesses and find solutions for the elderly and disabled to live safely in their homes.

The €22 billion also includes €600 million to extend an initiative to pool research and innovation investments in air traffic management, in support of plans to reform Europe’s airspace.

“These initiatives not only strengthen our economy, they are an investment in a better quality of life. Working together will enable us to tackle issues that no one company or country can deal with alone,” said commissioner for research, innovation and science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

The partnerships are designed to boost the competitiveness of EU industry as well as find solutions to “major challenges for society that are not being solved quickly enough by the market alone”, said the commission in a statement, citing reducing carbon emissions and providing the next generation of antibiotics as examples.

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