Framework 7 goes out with an €8 billion bang

The European Union will tomorrow launch a call for bids for €8.1 billion (£6.4 billion) in research funding as part of the final year of its Framework 7 programme.

July 9, 2012

The 2013 budget – announced on 9 July – is a 16 per cent increase on last year’s funding, from a total of €55 billion spent on the programme over the past seven years.

The European Commission says the programme will give special attention to funding small- and medium-sized business and efforts to exploit research for innovation and growth.

Under the plans, the European Research Council will receive €1.74 billion to fund blue-skies “frontier research”, a programme through which the UK wins more grants than any country in Europe.

This amount, which will fund around 900 researchers working across all fields, is an 11 per cent increase on 2012 and an almost six-fold increase since the ERC began funding in 2007.

Funding supporting individual researchers’ careers through the Marie Curie fellowship scheme will also increase by 9 per cent to €964 million.

Meanwhile €4.8 billion will be dedicated to research and innovation programmes by subject theme, with a particular focus on supporting close-to-market activities such as clinical trials.

The largest single funding stream – information and communication technology – will be allocated €1.5 billion, a 12 per cent increase on last year.

Space will get the proportionately largest increase, rising by 50 per cent from €84 million to €126 million, with priorities including satellite imaging of climate change, preparing for space exploration missions and dealing with space weather, debris and collision threats.

The only areas to see budget decreases in 2013 are transport, down 4 per cent on 2012, and ERA-NET cooperation projects, which will wind down from €1 million in 2012 to zero in 2013.

For the first time €1.4 billion will be spent on “key challenges” under headlines including oceans of the future, smart cities, brain research and anti-microbial resistance.

The 2013 programme and its focus on innovation is intended to pave the way for the EU’s next research funding programme from 2014, Horizon 2020, says the Commission.

“Knowledge is the currency of the global economy,” said research and innovation commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

“If Europe wants to continue to compete in the 21st century, we must support the research and innovation that will generate growth and jobs, now and in the future.

“The high level of competition for EU funding makes sure that taxpayers’ money goes to the best projects that tackle issues that concern all of us.”

The €80 billion, seven-year Horizon 2020 proposal is currently under discussion by the European Parliament and by member states.

Overall UK universities received almost €1.7 billion in Seventh Framework Programme funding between 2007 and 2010, the most of any higher education sector in Europe.

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