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

16 Sep 2021 | Live Blog

In June, the European Commission has published the official work programme, detailing budgets and deadlines for calls over the first two years of Horizon Europe. This blog will keep you apprised on the rollout of the EU's €95.5 billion R&D programme.

Tips are welcome at [email protected]. You can read the full archive of this blog here.

 

After three years of negotiations, EU policymakers today agreed on a new regulation for assessing health technologies in a deal expected to bring more innovative health technologies and medicines on the market.

“The Regulation will be a significant step forward to enable joint scientific assessments of promising treatments and medical devices at EU level,” said EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides. It will be crucial “when it comes to facilitating access to innovative medicines and addressing unmet medical needs with important benefits for patients across the EU.”

The new rules will enable member states to jointly evaluate the properties and effects of health technologies before they are allowed to hit the market. The new permanent framework, which replaces current EU-funded project-based rules for cooperation between different countries, will also cover joint scientific consultations, the identification of emerging health technologies, and voluntary cooperation.

 

The EU’s researcher training initiative, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, today opened its first calls for proposals as part of this year’s €822 million round of funding under the Horizon Europe research programme.

The MSCA Doctoral Networks call for PhD programmes in academia and industry opened today with a budget of €402.95 million alongside the €242 million MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships call for researchers with up to eight years of post-PhD research experience wishing to develop new skills in EU-funded mobility projects.

The two calls will close in autumn, on 16 November and 12 October, respectively. Around the same time, two more calls for proposals will go live: one for staff exchanges deepening research collaboration between different institutions and disciplines, and a second one geared at co-financing new and existing PhD and post-doc programmes in Horizon Europe countries.

This is the programmes 31st year and the first one under Horizon Europe. "The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted once more the importance of Europe's reliance on highly skilled researchers able to detect and tackle upcoming challenges,” said EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel. “In this context, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions are a crucial instrument.”

 

Spain’s research agency has selected 3,194 winning projects in the country’s ‘most important’ call for research worth €412 million.

With €135 million, the agency will finance 1,273 projects aimed at generating new knowledge, while another €277 million will be pumped into 1,921 top-down projects addressing research challenges set out by the government. The financing covers projects in life sciences, social sciences and humanities, and mathematical, physical, chemical and engineering sciences.

This year’s call received a €50 million top-up thanks to Spain’s two-year €1 billion ‘shock plan’ which aims to support R&I for the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

 

The Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council and MEPs are urging the EU to create a new approach to research and innovation in the creative and cultural industries.

The policymakers hope to promote closer links between stakeholders. “We want the EU to set up a Cultural and Creative Industries network so that these industries coordinate among themselves and promote a pan-European ecosystem of actors in the sector,” said MEP Christian Ehler, one of the signatories of the manifesto setting out the demands and a plan for getting there.

The cultural and creative industries contribute to 4.4% of the EU GDP and at the end of 2019 employed 7.6 million people. With their significant economic firepower, the signatories believe that the cultural and creative industries will be key to Europe’s digital and green transition but have often been overlooked. “This is why we are raising awareness about the importance of creative industries for the whole of Europe but also specifically for youth and young professionals who are employed in this sector,” said Ehler.

 

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.

 

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