Commission proposes most ambitious Research and Innovation programme yet
For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the European Commission (EC) is proposing EUR 100 billion for research and innovation (R&I). A new programme – Horizon Europe – will build on the achievements and success of the previous R&I programme (Horizon 2020) and keep the EU at the forefront of global R&!.
According to a Commission statement, Horizon Europe is the “most ambitious research and innovation programme ever”. The Horizon Europe proposal builds on the success of the current programme, Horizon 2020. The interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 showed that the programme has clear European added value, producing demonstrable benefits compared to national or regional-level support. As of May 2018, it has supported over 18 000 projects with over EUR 31 billion awarded.
The proposed budget allocation of EUR 100 billion for 2021-2027 includes EUR 97.6 billion under Horizon Europe – EUR 3.5 billion of which will be allocated under the InvestEU Fund and EUR 2.4 billion for the Euratom Research and Training Programme. The Euratom programme, which funds research and training on nuclear safety, security and radiation protection, will have an increased focus on non-power applications such as healthcare and medical equipment, and will also support the mobility of nuclear researchers under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.
Horizon 2020 is one of Europe’s biggest success stories. The new Horizon Europe programme aims even higher. As part of this, we want to increase funding for the European Research Council to strengthen the EU’s global scientific leadership and re-engage citizens by setting ambitious new missions for EU research. We are also proposing a new European Innovation Council to modernise funding for ground-breaking innovation in Europe, said Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.
While continuing to drive scientific excellence through the European Research Council (ERC) and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships and exchanges, Horizon Europe will introduce the following main new features:
- A European Innovation Council (EIC) to help the EU become a frontrunner in market-creating innovation: The Commission’s proposal will establish a one-stop shop to bring the most promising high potential and breakthrough technologies from lab to market application, and help the most innovative start-ups and companies scale up their ideas. The new EIC will help identify and fund fast-moving, high-risk innovations with strong potential to create entirely new markets. It will provide direct support to innovators through two main funding instruments, one for early stages and the other for development and market deployment. It will complement the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).
- New EU-wide research and innovation missions focusing on societal challenges and industrial competitiveness: Under Horizon Europe, the Commission will launch new missions with bold, ambitious goals and strong European added value to tackle issues that affect our daily lives. Examples could range from the fight against cancer, to clean transport or plastic-free oceans. These missions will be co-designed with citizens, stakeholders, the European Parliament and Member States.
- Maximising the innovation potential across the EU: Support will be doubled for Member States lagging behind in their efforts to make the most of their national research and innovation potential. Moreover, new synergies with Structural and Cohesion Funds will make it easy to coordinate and combine funding and help regions embrace innovation.
- More openness: The principle of ‘open science’ will become the modus operandi of Horizon Europe, requiring open access to publications and data. This will assist market uptake and increase the innovation potential of results generated by EU funding.
- A new generation of European Partnerships and increased collaboration with other EU programmes: Horizon Europe will streamline the number of partnerships that the EU co-programmes or co-funds with partners like industry, civil society and funding foundations, in order to increase their effectiveness and impact in achieving Europe’s policy priorities. Horizon Europe will promote effective and operational links with other future EU programmes, like Cohesion Policy, the European Defence Fund, the Digital Europe Programme and the Connecting Europe Facility, as well as with the international fusion energy project ITER.
The Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Commission’s science and knowledge service, will continue to contribute with scientific advice, technical support and dedicated research. The Commission points out that approximately two-thirds of Europe’s economic growth over the last decades has been driven by innovation.
Horizon Europe is expected to generate new and more knowledge and technologies, promoting scientific excellence, and to have positive effects on growth, trade and investment and significant social and environmental impact. Each EUR invested by the programme can potentially generate a return of up to EUR 11 of GDP over 25 years. EU investments in R&I are expected to directly generate an estimated gain of up to 100 000 jobs in R&I activities in the ‘investment phase’ (2021-2027).
Therefore the EC says that a “swift agreement” on the overall long-term EU budget and its sectoral proposals “is essential” to ensure that EU funds start delivering results on the ground as soon as possible. Delays would force Europe’s brightest minds to look for opportunities elsewhere. This would, the EC says, imply the loss of thousands of research jobs and harm Europe’s competitiveness.