Research and Development in Europe incorporates activities that are undertaken by a range of actors and which take place in a multi-level policy context. Research itself is carried out by universities, institutes, corporations, public bodies, SMEs and individuals. The policy context ranges from subnational authorities to national governments to EU–level programmes and abroad through partnerships.
Since 1984, EU-level funding of research and innovation activities has been grouped into one programme called the Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP). Research Framework Programmes are the EU's main financial and legal instrument for implementation of the European Research Area (ERA). In anticipation of the completion of the current programme--the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)--in 2013, the Union must prepare for Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020).
The Union recognises the key role of science and technology in tackling societal challenges and promoting sustainable economic growth, and this is reflected in an array of national programmes that aim at supporting scientific research. Under FP7, national programmes constitute 95% of public funding for scientific research in Europe; while the final 5% is accounted for by EU-level funding.
To address Europe's underinvestment in R&D, the Commission launched a green paper in February 2011 concerning the future EU research and innovation funding programmes. The paper expressed the Commission’s desire to unite current funding instruments and programmes for research and innovation under a "Common Strategic Framework," while respecting their specific roles and avoiding the risk of overlap and duplication between existing programmes.
Specific suggestions for achieving these aims were proposed by the Commission and have been taken into consideration within the Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation:
In a 30 November 2011 public press release on Horizon 2020, Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, called for a new vision of European research and innovation in response to the economic and social crises facing Europe over the last five years. Horizon 2020 provides significant potential for the unification of funding and research programmes under a general EU R&D concept.
With a time frame set from 2014 through to 2020, Horizon 2020’s strategic policy objectives are threefold: elevating Europe’s level of excellence and competitiveness in scientific research, maximising competitiveness impacts of research and innovation and Europe’s industrial leadership, and tackling the Union’s major societal challenges, such as unemployment, climate change, renewable energy, health.
The 20 November 2011 Commission Communication concerning Horizon 2020 - The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, introduces the new EU research framework programme as a response to the conclusions of the February European Council and previous 2011 Resolutions made by the European Parliament on the Innovation Union:
“The European Parliament has called for a radical simplification of Union research and innovation funding in its Resolution of 11 November 2010, has highlighted the importance of the Innovation Union to transform Europe for post-crisis world…and has supported the concept of a common strategic framework for research and innovation funding in its resolution of 27 September 2011” (P7 TA(2011)0236).
In the Commission's Impact Assessment Executive Summery accompanying this Communication, the Horizon 2020 framework was deemed the best policy option to promote EU R&D when compared to the following extremes: one being a policy of "business-as-usual" and continued maintenance of the current plurality of programmes for R&D. The other policy alternative would call for bringing an end to EU level R&D financing and a re-nationalisation of R&D policies.
Horizon 2020’s central aim of “simplification” in design and funding rules, the extent of participation (specifically extending to SMEs and third party participants), financial management and implementation makes it an all-encompassing strategy and an integral part of Europe 2020’s vision of a common strategic framework for research and innovation activities throughout the Union.
In this 30 November 2011 Communication, the Commission identifies investment in R&D as central to the EU Framework for Research and Innovation. Horizon 2020 funding will be instrumental in stimulating research and innovation activities, which include “the whole spectrum of activities of research, technological development, demonstration and innovation, including the promotion of cooperation with third countries and international organizations, dissemination and optimization of results and stimulation of the training and mobility of researchers in the Union” (European Parliament Regulation, Art 2; 12).
Horizon 2020 can, therefore, be understood as a structural catalyst for innovation in Europe.
As noted in the European Commission’s Innovation Union Communication, potential beneficiaries of R&D in Europe have traditionally faced a "multitude of national and regional programmes and intergovernmental initiatives as well as EU funding procedures."
While stressing fiscal consolidation and structural reform, Horizon 2020’s framework makes “excellence in science” one of its top three priorities for stimulating new growth in Europe, in addition to industrial leadership and addressing societal challenges.
Horizon 2020’s seven-year mandate makes it an essential funding programme to promote Europe’s research and innovation activities. In the context of the Europe 2020 strategy, Horizon 2020 is considered the financial instrument for implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative which aims to enhance the EU's global competitiveness in research and innovation.
The Horizon 2020 framework clearly outlines a strategy for Union funding that is both market-based and singular. Unlike previous EU funding systems, Horizon 2020’s framework concentrates the entirety of the Union’s funding from the following: Framework Programmes for Research and Technical Development, Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, European Institute of Innovation and Technology. Horizon 2020 funding is expected to have a significant influence on EU R&D research infrastructures through its single set of Rules for Participation and Dissemination.
Horizon 2020 is expected to have a significant impact on EU R&D because it calls for the breakdown of administrative barriers to create a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation. Specifically, EU funds will become more accessible for a wider spectrum of EU companies, universities, institutions, citizens, et al. As a result of opening funding paths and encouraging information exchanges, Horizon 2020 is expected to bridge research and innovation activities with the Union’s market.
Horizon 2020 will identify potential centres of excellence in underperforming regions and offer them policy advice and support, while EU funds will be used to update infrastructure and equipment. Horizon 2020's budget distribution will target Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to encourage their participation in programmes and to stimulate breakthrough innovations.
Amidst ongoing negotiations within both the European Parliament and Council on the 2014-2020 EU Budget, final budget decisions for the Horizon 2020 framework will be finalised before the end of 2013.
The anticipated impact on EU R&D, under Horizon 2020’s (estimated) €80 billion budget breakdown, which is still in negotiation, is as follows:
• R&D funding will go to achieving Europe 2020’s objective to increase spending of GDP on R&D to 3% by 2020;
• A budget of €24 598 million is expected to boost top-level research in Europe (an increase in funding of 77% for the European Research Council, ERC7);
• €17 938 million towards strengthening “industrial leadership” in innovation (investment in key technologies, support for SMEs);
•€31 748 million towards addressing the major societal challenges facing European citizens (e.g. climate change, sustainable transport, affordable renewable energy, food safety and security, the ageing European population);
•Nearly a €6 billion investment in developing European industrial capabilities in Key Enabling Technologies (e.g. Photonics and micro- and nanoelectronics, nanotechnologies, advanced materials and advanced manufacturing and processing, and biotechnology).
This tentative funding distribution is intended to fill gaps in funding for early-stage, high-risk research and innovation by SMEs.
On July 9th 2012, the Commission published its Calls for Proposals for the 2013 period. This presents a unique opportunity for the R&D Community to gain EU-level support for their projects. It is also a unique opportunity for EU institutions to support research initiatives that tackle the strategic challenges facing Europe today. It is crucial that effective communication takes place between the research community and key EU decision makers.
On January 1st 2014, Horizon 2020 will launch its first calls for proposals.
ISC has a unique set of skills and experience as a partner in the Calls for Proposals process. We have deployed these attributes to disseminate R&D information effectively, to raise decision-maker awareness of R&D excellence and develop R&D profiles in an EU context for innovative organisations.
For anyone interested in contacting us about the 2013 Calls for Proposals, please see our contact form.