For all its foibles
, the European Union does fancy itself as quite the progressive
supranational body and you need look no further than its gigantic €50.5 billion (to be spent between 2007 and 2013) R&D stimulus
program for evidence. Over the next 14 months, the Euro bureau will distribute €6.4 billion to universities, SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and other research organizations that seek to pursue its stated goals. Those include tackling the problems of climate change, the Union's greying population, food and energy source security and sustainability, as well as more generic health and quality of life challenges. The primary goal is stated as "translating research into new technologies, products and services" -- in other words, less vaporware
-- though we imagine the biggest justifier for this sizable injection de dinero will be the 165,000 new jobs that it's expected to create. Full PR after the break.
€6.4 billion for smart growth and jobs – Europe's biggest ever investment in research and innovation
Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn announces today 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. Many calls will be formally published on 20th July. This package is an economic stimulus expected to 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.
Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Investment in research and innovation is the only smart and lasting way out of crisis and towards sustainable and socially equitable growth. This European package will contribute to new and better products and services, a more competitive and greener Europe, and a better society with a higher quality of life. We are offering researchers and innovators €6.4 billion for cutting-edge projects focusing on big economic and societal challenges: climate change, energy and food security, health and an ageing population. This is a huge and efficient economic stimulus and an investment in our future."
More funding than ever before
There will be an opportunity to bid for funding from the EU's Seventh Framework Programme across a wide range of policy areas. For example, health gets over €600 million. There is a €1.2 billion boost to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) research, which will help deliver the Commission's commitment in the Digital Agenda for Europe to maintain the pace of yearly increases in ICT funding.
More than €1.3 billion are reserved for the best creative scientists selected by the European Research Council. Mobility grants for 7, 000 highly qualified researchers will be provided through "Marie Curie Actions", worth €772 million
€800 million for SMEs
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 ring-fenced budgets in several areas. For example, in health, knowledge-based bio-economy, environment and nanotechnologies SME participation must reach 35 % of the total budget for a number of topics.
New products and services
Translating research into new technologies, products and services is at the heart of the package.
In health research alone, around €206 million – one-third of the overall budget for 2011 – will be spent on investigator-driven clinical trials to get new medicines on the market quicker.
In nanotechnologies (€270 million), the focus will be on research that could lead to patenting and commercialisation opportunities.
Around €600 million of ICT funding is earmarked for next generation network and service infrastructures, robotic systems, electronic and photonic components, and digital content technologies. More than €400 million will support research into how ICTs can address challenges such as a lower-carbon economy, an ageing society, and adaptable and sustainable factories. €90 million is also earmarked in 2011 for the Future internet Public Private Partnership to make key European infrastructures "smart"
New pilot open access for environment research results
Environment research projects will get about €205 million. The Commission is introducing this year steps to speed up sharing of environmental research results: beneficiaries of EU grants will commit to making freely available – after a certain embargo period - publications arising from their research.
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 today 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.