€8.1 billion investment in research and innovation to create growth and jobs
The European Commission has announced the final and biggest ever set of calls for proposals for research under its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). In total, €8.1 billion will support projects and ideas that will boost Europe's competitiveness and tackle issues such as human health, protecting the environment and finding new solutions to growing challenges linked to urbanisation and managing waste. The funding – which is open to organisations and businesses in all EU Member States and partner countries - makes up the lion's share of the EU's proposed €10.8 billion research budget for 2013. This announcement comes just days after EU leaders emphasised the importance of research and innovation in the Compact for Growth and Jobs.
European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Knowledge is the currency of the global economy. 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 calls target both innovation and a range of societal challenges, building a bridge to Horizon 2020, the next funding programme for EU research from 2014-2020. In total €4.8 billion is dedicated to thematic research priorities. Industrial innovation will be supported through close-to-market activities such as piloting, demonstration, standardisation and technology transfer. Special attention will be given to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in a package worth up to €1.2 billion. Around €2.7 billion will help cement Europe's place as a world class destination for researchers, mainly through individual grants from the European Research Council (€1.75 billion), and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (€963 million) for research training and mobility.
To help spread excellent research more widely, a new "European Research Area Chairs" initiative is being prepared. A €12 million pilot call will select a total of five ERA Chairs, to be hosted by universities or other eligible research institutions in less developed regions in five different EU countries. To host an ERA Chair, institutions must demonstrate their ability to support excellence through providing the necessary facilities and complying with European Research Area principles such as open recruitment.
Most of the calls for proposals
(invitations to bid for funds) will be published on 10 July, with some
further specific calls to follow in the autumn.