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Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn has announced nearly 6.4 billion Euro of European Commission investment in research and innovation, up +12% in comparison to 2010 (5.7 billion Euro) and up by +30% in comparison to 2009 (4.9 billion Euro). The package, the biggest ever, covers a vast range of scientific disciplines, public policy areas and commercial sectors. The funding is aimed at the advancement of scientific boundaries.
Around 16,000 participants from research organisations, universities and industry, including about 3,000 SMEs, will receive funding. Grants will be awarded through "calls for proposals" (invitations to bid) and evaluations over the next 14 months. Many calls will be formally published today.
Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, said "investment in research and innovation is the only smart and lasting way out of crisis and towards sustainable and socially equitable growth. This European package will contribute to new and better products and services, a more competitive and greener Europe, and a better society with a higher quality of life. We are offering researchers and innovators 6.4 billion Euro for cutting-edge projects focusing on big economic and societal challenges: climate change, energy and food security, health and an ageing population. This is a huge and efficient economic stimulus and an investment in our future."
There will be an opportunity to bid for funding from the EU's Seventh Framework Programme across a wide range of policy areas.
Top priority is given to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME), the backbone of the European innovation system, representing 99% of all European businesses. SMEs, will receive close to 800 million Euro and for the first time, there will be ring-fenced budgets in several areas. For example, in health, knowledge-based bio-economy, environment and nanotechnologies SME participation must reach 35 % of the total budget for a number of topics.
Translating research into new technologies, products and services is at the heart of the package. In health research alone, around 206 million Euro, one-third of the overall budget for 2011, will be spent on investigator-driven clinical trials to get new medicines onto the market quicker.
In nanotechnologies (270 million Euro), the focus will be on research that could lead to patenting and commercialisation opportunities.
Around 600 million Euro of ICT funding is earmarked for next generation network and service infrastructures, robotic systems, electronic and photonic components, and digital content technologies. More than 400 million Euro will support research into how ICTs can address challenges such as a lower-carbon economy, an ageing society, and adaptable and sustainable factories. 90 million Euro is also earmarked in 2011 for the Future internet Public Private Partnership to make key European infrastructures 'smart'.
Environment research projects will get about 205 million Euro. The Commission is introducing this year steps to speed up sharing of environmental research results: beneficiaries of EU grants will commit to making freely available, after a certain embargo period, publications arising from their research.