Geoghegan-Quinn announces Europe’s largest investment in research and innovation

19 Jul 2010

The EU commissioner responsible for research and innovation, Ireland’s Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, today announced almost €6.4bn of European Commission funding for research and innovation.

The package, the biggest ever, covers a vast range of scientific disciplines, public policy areas and commercial sectors, and is expected to create more than 165,000 jobs. 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.

“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 €6.4bn 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,” said Geoghegan-Quinn.

Over the next 14 months, 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), many of which will be formally published tomorrow.

Funding for ICT, science and SMEs

There will be an opportunity to bid for funding from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme, the largest single research programme in the world, across a wide range of policy areas. Some €1.2bn has been allocated to 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.

The emphasis of the funding is on translating research into new technologies, products and services. Around €600m of ICT funding is earmarked for next-generation network and service infrastructures, robotic systems, electronic and photonic components, and digital content technologies. More than €400m will support research into how ICT can address challenges, such as a lower-carbon economy, an ageing society, and adaptable and sustainable factories. Some €90 million is also earmarked in 2011 for the Future Internet Public Private Partnership to make key European infrastructures ‘smart’.

In nanotechnologies (€270m), the focus will be on research that could lead to patenting and commercialisation opportunities.

More than €1.3bn will go to 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 €772m.

Meanwhile, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will receive close to €800m, 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 35pc of the total budget for a number of topics.