In it to win it

Business, Economy | Tue 1 Apr | Author – Business & Finance
European Parliament

Irish businesses must take advantage of the recent call for proposals in the fields of research, innovation and science under the EU Horizon 2020 programme, writes European Commissioner, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

In December 2013, the European Commission published calls for proposals worth €15bn under the EU Horizon 2020 programme. This is the largest programme in support of the research, innovation and science sectors that has ever been undertaken in the history of the EU.

It is testament to the fact that the EU is backing investment within these important policy sectors so as to ensure that the economies in Europe, including in Ireland, become more competitive.

Investments of this nature will help to both create and maintain high quality jobs, which is a central requirement for economic recovery.

Irish small, medium and large-scale companies should look very carefully at the opportunities that are available via this first Horizon 2020 call for proposals.

A number of areas have been identified for special focus and support.

Improving health

At least €549m is being put aside for research and innovation activities in the area of personalised healthcare. By better understanding the causes of health and disease, and by making use of big data, we can develop better diagnostics, therapies and disease prevention strategies. Funding in this area aims to deliver breakthrough research and innovation both in poverty related diseases and in antibiotic, resistant, infectious diseases.

Cleaner environment

€359m has been allocated to support renewable energy technologies that will assist the EU in reducing  greenhouse gas emissions. The aim of this call is to bolster this policy objective by tackling the whole innovation process, covering a wide range of technology readiness levels, combining research, development and innovation with market uptake and by addressing non-technological issues such as standardisation and impact analysis.

A further €190m will finance research activities to develop more energy-efficient solutions, such as in the area of building components or in heating and cooling systems. This will help to reduce energy consumption needs in large congested urban areas. The transport sector accounts for 63% of oil consumption and 29% of all CO2 emissions in Europe.

Accordingly, we have to reduce the use of fossil fuels in this sector so as to improve air quality. €375m has been provided to deploy innovative traffic management and information systems, efficient logistics and maintenance technologies. For example, the first Horizon 2020 call will fund projects aimed at both developing new technologies for very-low emission vehicles and vessels and for measures to reduce urban congestion. Some €42m will also back research activities to improve how society manages waste and disposes of it. We have to re-cycle and re-use waste materials in a less costly and in a more environmentally friendly manner.

Sustainable food security

Another €138m is being put aside for research into developing competitive and resource-efficient aquatic and food production systems and to devise technologies to assist in building a sustainable food chain. This will promote both safe foods and healthy diets. For example, funding will aim at fighting native and alien pests affecting plants, eliminating discards in European fisheries and discovering innovative and sustainable protein sources for the future.

Approximately €67m is being allocated to bring innovative water solutions to the market place so that we can better manage the use of water in a more integrated and efficient manner.

Digital security

Digital security has many facets, including cybercrime, online privacy and the protection of fundamental rights. Digital security in Horizon 2020 focuses on basic research and also on the economic and societal dimension of security and privacy in the digital ecosystem.

It has been decided that €74m will be allocated to help implement the EU’s wider cyber security strategy in accordance with the EU Digital Agenda strategy. In particular, Horizon 2020 will fund research activities that aim to increase the security of current applications, services and infrastructure and support the creation of lead markets and market incentives in Europe.

Growth strategy

For ocean research, under what is known as the EU Blue growth strategy, €100m will be allocated. This will include proposals on how best to unlock the potential of the Atlantic Ocean, including in the areas of Atlantic observation systems, and to organise an integrated response to oil spills and marine pollution. Another €72m will be set aside for research and development into how we should deal with natural and manmade disasters as well as to help combat international crime and organised crime.

Whatever the industry sector or research project you are involved in, my message to Irish companies is a simple one – if you are not in, you cannot win.

For more information on Horizon 2020 visit ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en.

There is an EU helpdesk that will guide prospective participants through the application process. Enterprise Ireland also runs an advisory service for prospective Horizon 2020 participants under the leadership of Dr Imelda Lambkin.

About: Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever developed with nearly €80bn of funding available over seven years from 2014 to 2020. In addition to the private investment that this money will attract, it promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

Applying

The following guidance services can facilitate your participation:

  • H2020 online manual: Step-by-step online guide through the portal processes from proposal preparation and submission to reporting on your on-going project.
  • Reference documents: Library of legal documents, guidance notes, and additional reference material for H2020 and FP7.
  • Search: For already registered organisations.
  • Financial viability self-check tool: Allows financial viability check of your organisation.
  • SME participation: Dedicated H2020 guidance page for SMEs.