New Horizon Europe public-private partnerships are in the making

18 Apr 2023 | News

Member states to decide which new industry and public partnerships will be added to the EU research and innovation portfolio by end of the year

The headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels

Horizon Europe is to have a new set of public-private partnerships starting in 2025, with candidates to be selected by the end of this year.

The European Commission is compiling a list of potential new partnerships to be put forward for consideration by member states. The plan is reportedly that this happens in the first half of the summer.

Unconfirmed reports suggest six potential new partnerships could be proposed, adding to the existing portfolio of 40 or so joint research and innovation programmes that see billions in investment each year. The Brussels rumour mill has been floating around topics for the upcoming partnerships ranging from materials to space.

One leaked draft suggests brain health, cultural heritage, textiles, forestry, advanced materials and solar power could be on the list. Other rumoured options would see EU’s existing policy supported in the partnerships format, such as the New European Bauhaus and research infrastructures.

The EU has been running industrial and public research partnerships in one form or another since the inception of framework programmes in 1984. They pool industry and public resources, giving key markets a boost and advancing innovation across the continent. In recent years, as EU research programming has become increasingly driven by policy and geopolitical goals, they’ve become a tool for advancing the bloc’s green and digital agendas.

The current portfolio of 49 partnerships is spread across four main areas of health; digital and industry; climate, energy and mobility; and food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and environment. There is €8 billion dedicated to the programmes in the €95.5 billion Horizon Europe alone, with billions more invested by industry and governments.

Once put forward, the list of potential new partnerships will be examined by the Partnership Knowledge Hub, where the Commission, Horizon countries and existing partnership representatives sit. Based on their advice, the member states will choose the winning partnerships by the end of the year. Three meetings are expected before a decision is made in the fourth quarter of the year.

This is part of preparation for the next Horizon Europe strategic plan, which will outline the direction the EU’s research and innovation programme will take in its final three years. The plan is due in the first quarter of next year and will include an updated list of partnerships.

There are three types of partnerships under Horizon Europe, involving industry and public actors, but it remains to be seen what kind the Commission will propose. The Commission will propose, “a limited number of new candidate partnerships (both public-public and public-private), a Commission spokesman said. “The goal is to complete the portfolio of partnerships for Horizon Europe by identifying where new needs and opportunities have arisen and gaps still remain.”

The process of selection is the same as was used for the first batch of partnerships selected before 2021.

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