European Commission unveils research spending plans

The European Research Council’s budget will increase by nearly 80 per cent if the European Commission’s detailed proposals for its research and innovation spending are adopted.

November 30, 2011

Earlier today the commission unveiled its detailed proposals for how it intends to spend that budget.

The European Research Council, which funds individual researchers working in “frontier” research and is regarded as one of the success stories of the current European Union Framework Programme, will see its budget rise by 77 per cent, from €7.5 billion (£6.4 billion) to €13.2 billion.

The commission had previously announced that it wants to see its overall budget for research and innovation increase from its current €55 billion to €80 billion over the next framework programme, which runs from 2014 to 2020 and is known as Horizon 2020.

The ERC budget will come out of a €25 billion allocation for supporting the EU’s position as a world leader is science.

This will also include a 21 per cent increase in the budget for the commission’s Marie Curie mobility schemes.

The commission has also confirmed that funding under Horizon 2020 will be easier to apply for and come with “no unnecessary controls and audits”.

The commission also hopes to reduce the gap between award and receipt of funding to an average of 100 days so that projects can start more quickly.

Other tranches of the research and innovation budget will include €32 billion for addressing six societal challenges: health, demographic change and well-being; food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research and the bio-economy; secure, clean and efficient energy; smart, green and integrated transport; climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials; and inclusive, innovative and secure societies.

The commission also proposes to spend nearly €18 billion on “securing industrial leadership in innovation”, including €6 billion for developing “key enabling technologies” such as nanotechnologies, advanced materials and biotechnology.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology, a network of higher education institutions and businesses working is specific areas, will see its budget increase from €309 million to €2.8 billion, and its number of “Knowledge and Innovation Communities” rise from three to nine.

The budget is subject to revision by both MEPs and the national governments.

The commission hopes a final budget will be adopted by the end of 2013.

Commissioner for research, innovation and science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “We need a new vision for European research and innovation in a dramatically changed economic environment.

“Horizon 2020 provides direct stimulus to the economy and secures our science and technology base and industrial competitiveness for the future, promising a smarter, more sustainable and more inclusive society.”

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