Innovation has been placed at the heart of the EU's strategy to create growth and jobs.
EU countries are encouraged to invest 3% of their GDP in R&D by 2020 (1% public funding, 2% private-sector investment) - this is expected to create 3.7 million jobs and increase the EU's annual GDP by nearly €800 billion.
The EU initiative Innovation Union focuses Europe's efforts – and its cooperation with non EU countries – on the big challenges of our time: energy, food security, climate change and our ageing population. It uses public sector intervention to stimulate the private sector and remove bottlenecks which prevent ideas from reaching the market – including lack of finance, fragmented research systems and markets, under-use of public procurement for innovation and slow standard-setting.
Self-cleaning plastics developed by EU-funded scientists could save you time and money washing your car, and reduce your impact on the environment.
In January 2014, the EU launched its latest 7-year research programme - Horizon 2020 - Almost €80-bn of EU funding is available up to 2020 – in addition to the private and national public investment this money will attract. It combines all research and innovation funding in one integrated programme.
Its goals are:
Horizon 2020 will seek to:
Manuscript updated in November 2014
This publication is part of the 'European Union explained' series