Cash boost for EU research
20 July 2010
The European Commission has revealed details of its largest investment in research and innovation to date, announcing a funding package worth 6.4 billion (£5.4 billion).
Under the commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the funding for 2011 is some 12 per cent more than this year, and 30 per cent more than 2009.
While the level of funding had previously been determined when FP7 (running from 2007-13) was originally approved, scientists are nonetheless relieved that the commission stuck with the plan despite the current financial crisis, which has triggered cuts in some national research budgets, says Enric Banda, president of Euroscience, an association promoting science and technology.
The European Commission continues to build its funding
Speaking in Brussels on 19 July, research and innovation commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said of the 6.4 billion: 'That is big money and it has never been needed more than now.' She emphasised that the money will help stimulate the economy, creating more than 165,000 new jobs.
Calls for proposals for much of the new funding will be published today, with proposals evaluated in coming months and grants expected to be awarded by late spring-early summer 2011.
Major research areas earmarked for funding in the new FP7 round include 1.2 billion for information and communication technology, €600 million for health, 270 million for nanotechnologies, 205 million for environment, 1.3 billion for the best creative scientists to be selected by the European Research Council, 772 million for mobility grants to allow 7,000 researchers to move to other nations, and €800 million for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Geoghegan-Quinn repeatedly described the new funding round as supporting 'research and innovation,' but entrepreneurs in recent weeks have been critical of the approach, saying EU innovation policy is too focused on science and research at the expense of business.
Banda says that, in principle, he agrees that innovation needs more support from the EU, but that research should not be sacrificed.
'We do believe that innovation and research make a marvellous couple,' he says. 'But research and innovation are different animals. EU money for research still is not enough. Innovation needs additional money, but not by shifting money from research.'
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Also of interest
30 April 2010
Radical changes to EU research funding policies as European Commission responds to calls to cut red tape
14 December 2009
Experts call for EU leaders to make 'radical improvements' in research policy following an assessment of the current state of European science
27 October 2009
European Research Council to streamline peer review process and hire a scientist to run the agency in response to criticism by independent review panel
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