HORIZON BLOG: Research and innovation in the new seven-year budget

18 Jun 2021 | Live Blog

On 2 February, the European Commission announced the official launch of Horizon Europe, the EU’s next R&D programme.

But, before any of the €95.5 billion budget can start flowing, there remain many administrative and legal steps still to complete. The Commission has yet to launch the first formal call for grant applications.

This blog will keep you apprised of all the details as they unfold.

Tips are welcome at [email protected].

You can read the full archive of this blog here.

 

The new EU health programme, EU4Health, will channel €312 million towards pandemic prevention, fighting cancer and revamping health systems around Europe this year.

The European Commission today adopted the first work programme of the seven-year health programme, detailing the plans and budgets for 2021. It includes projects on disease surveillance, preventing shortages of medicines, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and testing the resilience of health systems.

“Today, we start an unprecedented investment programme for health in the EU. The first-ever EU4Health work programme starts paving the way towards a strong European Health Union,” said EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

 

Germany is giving a €1.4 billion boost to its state-aid programme providing loans for long-term research and development projects.

This is the programme's second top-up this year. In January, the scheme, started it 2011, received an extra €200 million to be spent on private R&D projects by 30 June.

With an extra €1.4 billion, the programme will now run until the end of 2025 and have a stronger focus on experimental projects aiming to outdo current state-of-the-art products, processes, and services. All this was approved by the European Commission today following EU state-aid rules that dictate an EU member states needs approval to provide government support that could distort the market, giving advantage to certain companies.

 

Denmark is set to channel 17% of its €1.5 billion EU-backed recovery fund, or around €255 million, to green research and development projects.

This includes €94 million which will go towards public-private projects developing green technologies, such as sustainable fuels and carbon capture and storage, as well as €148 million in tax incentives to boost private R&D.

The European Commission gave the green light to the plan today, allowing the money to start flowing. Denmark has until 2026 to spend the money, 59% of which is targeted funding for accelerating the country’s transition to carbon neutrality.

 

On a mission to revamp the country’s science facilities, the Spanish State Research Agency today launched a €180 million call for scientific equipment – a record budget for Spain.

The aim is to equip public research organisation and universities with open access state-of the-art equipment, technologies, and R&D services. To do so, the agency is offering grants of up to €1.5 million.

The last call such call ran in 2019 with €27 million available in grants and another €160 million in loans and repayable advances from the EU regional funds. This time around, Spain is using the €672,5 billion EU recovery budget to revamp its science facilities.

 

The first top-down EIC Pathfinder call has opened, inviting researchers to address technological challenges in five fields: system awareness; tools for measuring and stimulating activity in the brain tissue; emerging technologies in cell and gene therapy; novel routes to green hydrogen production; and engineering living materials.

There is €132 million available for successful projects from the budget of the EU innovation fund, the European Innovation Council, which launched earlier this year. Research consortia can apply for grants of up to €4 million by 27 October.

 

Spain will offer alternative funding to its start-ups that fail to secure funding from the EU’s new start-up financing programme, the European Innovation Council.

In the next two years, companies that don’t make the cut in EIC Accelerator calls for start-ups but receive the EU’s “Seal of Excellence” consolation prize for excellent proposals will have the chance to secure national grants.

All this is in line with the country’s new R&I strategy, which outlines research aims and instruments for 2021-2023. Adopted today, the strategy focuses on health, green and digital R&I, fosters more top-down research than its predecessor, and outlines the country’s role in the creation of the future EU single market for research, the European Research Area.

 

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s pilot call for testing new approaches to boosting the innovation capabilities of universities received 64 applications from networks uniting almost 750 institutions.

Back in March, the EIT, the EU’s innovation agency, launched a €9 million pilot project looking for universities to put forward plans to strengthen their links to business and research organisations and improve their entrepreneurial education. A total of 319 universities from 36 countries responded with proposals, together with 429 companies, research institutes and other organisations set to help the universities on their journey.

The 24 winners will be announced on 12 July. They will then get €400,000 for the first six month to draft plans and begin the work. If successful, they will secure a further €800,000 to continue improving their innovation capacity.

The pilot project is one of the first initiatives of the revamped EIT, which launched this Monday.

 

Germany today announced it will almost double the budget of its €50 million COVID-19 therapeutics research programme, adding a new €40 million call. 

The programme will complement the country’s vaccination efforts. “In addition to the availability of vaccines, the successful development of effective therapeutics is crucial in order to be able to cope with the corona pandemic in the long term,” said Germany’s research minister, Anja Karliczek.

The first call launched in the beginning of 2021. But upon receiving the first project proposals, the evaluators realised some good ideas needed more time to crystalise before they can be funded. The new tranche of funding will enable these ideas to come to life, with researchers and companies invited to apply for funding by 23 August.

 

The European Commission has launched its Horizon IP support scheme which will help start-ups and SMEs take advantage of intellectual property rights in joint innovation projects.

Companies in projects funded by the EU research programme will now be able to get help from local IP experts across Europe to learn how to better protect their existing IP and exploit new IP generated in their projects.

 

More than 1000 students in Spain will be able to secure loans for their education and training as well as career coaching and support thanks to a €4 million agreement between the European Investment Fund and the fintech company, StudentFinance.

The company, which received backing from the Fund, is building a tool allowing all kinds of education providers, from boot camps to universities, to offer deferred payment schemes to their students.

Today’s deal will serve more than 100 students in Spain, which will be able to repay their loans when they get a job and earn above a certain pre-determined amount. In the future, StudentFinance hopes to offer its services to students in Germany, Belgium, Poland, Italy and the Netherlands.

“Education and skills are key elements to promote economic efficiency, social inclusion, growth, competitiveness and, of course, self-development, all in the context of an ever-changing world,” said Alain Godard, chief of the European Investment Fund. “The agreement signed with StudentFinance goes exactly in this direction, enabling students to invest in their future while offering targeted training opportunities, career coaching and mentoring.”

 

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