The European Commission launched the final and biggest ever set of calls for proposals for research under its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). In total, €8.1 billion (US$10 billion) for the 2013 work program will support projects and ideas that will boost Europe’s competitiveness and tackle issues such as human health, protecting the environment and finding new solutions to growing challenges linked to urbanization and managing waste. Most of the calls for proposals will be published on 10 July, with some further specific calls to follow in the autumn.
The funding—which is open to organizations and businesses in all EU Member States and partner countries—represents the largest portion of the EU’s proposed €10.8-billion (US$13.3-billion) research budget for 2013.
The calls target both innovation and a range of societal challenges, building a bridge to Horizon 2020, the next funding program for EU research from 2014-2020. In total €4.8 billion (US$5.9 billion) is dedicated to thematic research priorities. Industrial innovation will be supported through close-to-market activities such as piloting, demonstration, standardization and technology transfer.
Special attention will be given to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in a package worth up to €1.2 billion (US$1.5 billion). Around €2.7 billion (US$3.3 billion), mainly through individual grants from the European Research Council (€1.75 billion), and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (€963 million), targets research training and mobility.
To help spread excellent research more widely, a new “European Research Area Chairs” initiative is being prepared. A €12-million (US$14.8 million) pilot call will select a total of five ERA Chairs, to be hosted by universities or other eligible research institutions in less developed regions in five different EU countries. To host an ERA Chair, institutions must demonstrate their ability to support excellence through providing the necessary facilities and complying with European Research Area principles such as open recruitment.
Innovative thematic research priorities in this FP7 call include:
~€155 million (US$191 million) for “Oceans of the future”, to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors;
~€365 million (US$449 million) will be invested to support innovation in energy, transport and information and communication technologies (ICT) to transform urban areas into smart, sustainable, low-carbon environments that are resilient to the impacts of climate change;
some €147 million (US$181 million) to combat the rise of drug-resistant bacteria;
and nearly €100 million (US$123 million) dedicated to innovative solutions for managing fresh water resources.
The calls also support the Digital Agenda’s ICT research funding targets, with almost €1.5 billion (US$1.85 billion) going to the thematic area of information and communication technologies.
There will be around €970 million (US$1.2 billion) of financing for SMEs under the thematic research priorities. Other measures include an extra €150 million (US$185 million) for guarantees to leverage €1 billion (US$1.23 billion) in loans for SMEs and mid-caps (slightly larger firms up to 500 employees).
The €8.1 billion announced today is expected to leverage an additional €6 billion (US$7.4 billion) of public and private investment in research. The FP7 framework programme, launched in 2007, has a total budget of €55 billion ($67.7 billion) for research and innovation.