EU set for massive increase in research spending
02.12.11 @ 09:28
BRUSSELS - The European Commission has presented plans to boost spending on scientific research by tens of billions of euros.
EU science commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn on Wednesday (30 November) announced the bloc's new €80 billion envelope, up from €50.5 billion for its previous seven-year funding programme. The new scheme, dubbed Horizon 2020, will run from 2014-2020.
"We need a new vision for European research and innovation in a dramatically changed economic environment," said Geoghegan-Quinn.
"[The funding programme] focuses more than ever on turning scientific breakthroughs into innovative products and services that provide business opportunities. At the same time it cuts red tape, with simplification of rules and procedures," the commission said in a statement.
In net terms, the sums represent little extra stimulus for the economy, as the bulk of the funds have been shifted from what would otherwise have been spent on agricultural subsidies. The shift does reflect the growing emphasis within Europe on high-tech industry and away from farming, however. Much of the research money is to go to health, food security, energy and transport projects.
Of the €80 billion, €24.6 billion will go to academic research, with €13.2 billion in available grants through the European Research Council (ERC) - a 77 percent increase. Much of the rest will go to businesses in the form of innovation subsidies.
Helga Nowotny, president of the ERC, told Nature magazine that she is "overall pleased" with the proposed budget, which she says will allow the ERC to "at least continue support for the very best researchers working in Europe."
Another big winner, the European Institute of Technology in Budapest, an initiative established in 2008 to boost industrial research spending in the European Union, will receive €2.8 billion. The institute is expected to help to create up to 600 start-up companies over the funding period and provide training for 10,000 PhD students.
The proposed budget increase must still be approved by the European Parliament. The commission hopes a final budget will be adopted by the end of 2013.