22 Jan 2021

HORIZON BLOG: Research and innovation in the next EU budget

The European Commission is working on a new proposal for its 2021-2027 multiannual budget, which is to be paired with a recovery plan aimed at helping the EU come out of the looming recession set in motion by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here, we gather the latest news and reactions to how the EU is planning to fund its research and innovation programmes during the difficult period ahead.

Tips are welcome at [email protected].

 

Starting today, European SMEs can apply for support from a new 20 million fund to make better use of their intellectual property rights, marking the first concrete action from the European Commission’s IP Action Plan announced in November.

The first of five 2021 calls for applications was launched today inviting SMEs to apply for reimbursements of up to €1,500 for IP scan services and trademark and design applications.

 

Germany this week announced the start of its first quantum computing research projects funded with €120 million from the country’s economic stimulus package.

This is the first tranche of funding from the national recovery package aimed at developing the country’s quantum computing ecosystem in a push for more technology sovereignty.

“With quantum technologies, we are making an important contribution to greater independence from competitors and thus to greater technological sovereignty,” said Germany’s research minister, Anja Karliczek.

 

The European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) today signed a pact kicking off joint efforts to support promising entrepreneurs.

The start-up funder EIC and the EIT, which focuses on training and custom support for innovators, will integrate their services enabling entrepreneurs to access both funding and training opportunities.

The cooperation has been in the works for several months now and the two organisations have been testing out pilot actions. They have also set up a joint working group which will share information and have regular progress reviews.

With the EU’s next research programme set to launch in February, the EIC and the EIT are ready to work together. “I think it’s very important that we move on to execution. The difference between dreams and reality is execution,” said Ireland’s chief scientist and the chair of the EIC advisory board, Mark Ferguson.

 

The European Research Council (ERC) today announced 55 winners that will receive €150,000 each in its latest round of funding for proof-of-concept projects.

The winners will test ideas for new low-cost COVID-19 tests, improving clean energy production and ways to develop drugs for treating blindness.

This final investment of €8.25 million brings the ERC’s total 2020 funding for 166 proof-of-concept projects to €25 million. Last year, scientists from the UK, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands won the most awards, securing a total of 87 grants.

“The research funded in this call is set to break fresh ground and to open new ways of dealing with pressing challenges in the areas of health, migration and climate change, amongst many other fields,” said EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

 

The EIC Fund, the European Commission’s new investment hand, this month will directly invest around €178 million in 42 innovative SMEs.

These will be the EU’s first ever direct investments in promising start-ups that mark a step towards the European Innovation Council (EIC) becoming one of Europe’s top venture capital funds.

The first company to receive the new type of funding was CorWave, a French producer of novel implantable heart pumps, in which the Commission acquired €15 million worth of shares.

 

The European Commission today launched a centre aimed at setting up a collaborative digital space for cultural heritage conservation and providing access to data, metadata, standards, and guidelines.

The €3 million three-year project, funded by the EU’s research programme, Horizon 2020, will be coordinated by Italy’s National Institute for Nuclear Physics.

On the same day, the Commission also launched two €1 million Horizon 2020 funded education projects focused on advancing digital innovation in schools.

 

Spain today approved its main biomedical and health research programme, which in 2021 will disperse €134 million in grants, 33.3% more than in 2020. On the same day, the government also approved a €115 million nine-year financing package for the national supercomputing centre, which will mainly finance the roll out of a new EU-supported supercomputer, MareNostrum5, in Barcelona.

Next year, the reinforced health programme, which may be topped up by another €55 million if the EU approves Spain’s recovery plans, will finance research projects, give bigger salaries to post-doctoral students, and include a new special instrument for emerging infectious diseases research.

 

The European Commission last week signed a collaboration agreement with the World Meteorological Organisation, a United Nations body that promotes international cooperation on the state and behaviour of the earth’s atmosphere.

The new collaboration will support Green Deal research and innovation, Horizon Europe missions dedicated to saving oceans and strengthening Europe’s climate resilience, and the deployment of independent earth observation systems, the Global Earth Observation System of Systems. There are a total of 12 areas of collaboration in the new agreement ranging from climate change and coastal zone management to health and transportation.

 

The German Research Foundation (DFG) will invest €25 million in seven new research projects, expanding the funder’s current 162 project portfolio.

The new projects will analyse how teeth replacement materials interact with teeth tissue; inquire what counts as a good life; study how a person’s sex influences their immune system; research how natural substances produced by fungi, cytochalasans, influence other organisms on a cellular level; carry out socioeconomic studies on competition in higher education; investigate the link between the distribution of ions in solids and their transport properties; and examine how groundwater flowing into the sea affects coastal ecosystems.

 

EU ambassadors Friday night reached an agreement on a new five-year €1.38 billion (in current prices) research and training programme for improving nuclear energy safety and radiation protection, Euratom.

Of the €1.38 billion, €583 million will be invested in fusion power research, €266 billion in nuclear fission, safety and radiation protection, and the remaining €532 million will be dedicated to research carried out by the EU’s science hub, the Joint Research Council.

Complementing the EU’s research programme, Euratom will be governed under the same rules and instruments as Horizon Europe, including supporting researcher exchanges with the help of the mobility programme, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).

 

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