Framework cash goes further, but not far enough

July 29, 2010

The European Commission has poured EUR6.4 billion (£5.4 billion) into research and innovation, its largest annual investment to date.

The funding, to be distributed to research councils, universities and businesses across Europe, will be awarded to successful bidders over the next 14 months.

It is the latest annual allocation from the EUR50 billion Seventh Framework Programme for Research, which was established to distribute research funding from the Commission between 2007 and 2013.

However, while the sum reflects a 12 per cent increase on the cash available last year and was welcomed by the European Universities Association, the EUA also said that it is not enough to help pull the continent out of recession.

Andrew Miller, spokesman for the EUA, said the network of institutions will be pressing for increased investment through the next funding round, allocated from 2013 onwards.

"We stress that investment in universities that train people with new skills for new jobs and in scientific research is a necessary way out of the economic downturn for Europe," he said.

Despite the desire for more, Mr Miller added that European universities would benefit "across the board" from the latest funding.

Of the cash available, EUR1.3 billion is reserved for scientists selected by the European Research Council. Mobility grants for 7,000 European researchers will also be provided at a cost of EUR772 million, distributed through the Marie Curie Actions fellowship programme.

A total of EUR600 million will be allocated to projects related to health research and EUR1.2 billion will go to information and communication technology, in support of the Commission's digital agenda.

Small and medium-sized businesses, described by the Commission as the "backbone" of innovation, will pick up almost EUR800 million, ring-fenced in some areas.

The EUA is set to call for a simplification of the funding stream from 2013 onwards. The Commission is expected to publish its new European Plan for Research and Innovation later this year.

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