Irish researchers hope to win share of €79bn fund

The €79bn EU research budget will be launched in Dublin next month to Irish researchers and industry who hope to win about €1bn in funding over the next seven years.

Research Minister Sean Sherlock, who helped negotiate the package, said the Government hoped to win almost double the €572m that has been drawn down mainly by third-level institutions and industry in the past six years.

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, who is in charge of research, innovation and science, will take part in the Dublin launch of the fund, known as Horizon 2020, in the Convention Centre on Dec 10 to explain the new programme and opportunities available.

Mr Sherlock said he hoped that it would attract a wide range of people who may not have taken part in the programme before.

“There are real and new opportunities for funding available, including specific supports for SMEs under the industrial leadership pillar that is also targeted at industrial technologies, such as nanotechnologies, biotechnologies and ICT.”

Under the current programme Irish SMEs have drawn down €116m, but it is hoped to considerably increase this figure over the period 2014-2020.

Enterprise Ireland is organising the launch event when all those potentially interested in applying for funding will be able to meet the Irish network of European advisors in the key research areas. Enterprise Ireland will coordinate the national support network for Horizon 2020

As well as industrial leadership the other two pillars are excellent science, which will cover research infrastructures and future and emerging technologies, and societal challenges, which is directed at issues of everyday living such as health, food, security, climate, energy and transport.

There is a new simplified funding model to reduce the amount of red tape.

The European Parliament voted to adopt the Horizon 2020 package yesterday — one of only a very few areas in the EU’s budget for 2014-2020 that saw an increase. The additional funding of nearly 30% makes it one of the biggest publicly funded research budgets worldwide.

Speaking after the vote, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn said, “This is a vote of confidence in the power of EU research and innovation funding. It paves the way for more investment in knowledge and competitiveness in Europe. The European Parliament’s support for an input to Horizon 2020 has been very important”.

She added that this is the first time that all EU-level funding for research and innovation is brought under one programme, providing a single set of rules and less red tape.

“The overarching goal is a more coherent, simpler programme that will make it easier to participate, especially for smaller research organisations and small businesses,” she said.


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