December 03, 2011

Horizon 2020 structure: Focus on enterprises, products and societal challenges

To judge from the package of measures released on 30 November, Horizon 2020, the eight framework programme on research and innovation, will be based around a philosophy of more business-oriented approach, favouring actions aimed at creating innovative products and services that provide business opportunities and change daily life for the better.

Its EUR80 billion budget for 2014-2020 will stretch across three priorities:

1) 'Excellent science'' (EUR24.6 billion)
- The European Research Council (ERC), responsible for innovative frontier research (EUR13.2 billion);
- Development in future and emerging technologies (EUR3.1 billion);
- Marie Curie Actions to fund training, mobility and career development of researchers (EUR5.75 billion);
- Developing priority research infrastructures (EUR2.4 billion).

2) 'Industrial leadership' (EUR17.9 billion) - to facilitate investments in innovation and key enabling technologies including nanotechnologies, biotechnology, space, photonics, microelectronics, advanced materials and advanced manufacturing and processing - as well as greater access to capital and support for SMEs.

3) 'Better Society' - tackling major societal challenges relating to:
- Health, demographic change and well-being;
- Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research and the bio-economy;
- Secure, clean and efficient energy; - Smart, green and integrated transport; - Inclusive, innovative and secure societies; and
- Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials.
Prospects for local and regional authorities would seem to rest with the third priority which is valued at EUR31.7 billion. This will be particularly true if the Regions of Knowledge sub-programme is transferred to Interreg as being suggested (see October's Bulletin).

In a bid to address major issues for society, a EUR2.8 billion package has been set aside for the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) to bring together the expertise of higher education institutions, research centres and businesses on a cross-border public-private-partnership basis. This will expand the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) hubs approach beyond the current focus on sustainable energy, climate change and ICT to six new themes: innovation for healthy living and active ageing; sustainable food supply chain; raw materials including recycling; added value and sustainable manufacturing; innovative ICT solutions to security issues; and urban mobility.

Major simplifications in the application and project management procedures, should mean that funding proves easier to access thanks to this simpler programme architecture, a single set of rules and reduced red tape. A 100-day goal for the time needed from application to start-up payment is envisaged.

Synergies with the instruments of EU Cohesion Policy are also to be explored in a bid to widen the range of participants - particularly among innovative businesses. This model will in part be based on Horizon 2020 providing policy advice and support to potential centres of excellence in underperforming regions while the Structural Funds assist with the upgrading of infrastructure and equipment.

The Commission proposal will now be discussed by the Council and the European Parliament, with a view to adoption before the end of 2013.

Further details:

Posted by iroronan at December 3, 2011 12:19 PM

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