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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 20 August 2013

Commission awards 50th European Industrial Doctorate grant to VAMPIRE research into eradicating cancer blood supply

The European Commission awards its 50th European Industrial Doctorate (EID) research grant today. The 1.5 million grant is for research into new antibodies that will destroy a tumour's blood vessels and eradicate the tumour. The so-called VAMPIRE project ('Vascular Antibody-Mediated Pharmaceutically Induced tumour Resection') is led by the University of Birmingham in the UK and SomantiX, a Dutch biotech company based in Utrecht. The research is supported by associated European universities, companies and research centres including Swiss science and technology university ETH Zurich and the charity Cancer Research UK. The EID scheme is targeted at projects which bring together business and academic partners in two countries.

Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "I am delighted that we have reached this milestone with the European Industrial Doctorate – and there could surely be no better example of the kind of cross-sector collaboration we wish to encourage than this partnership to fight cancer. The EID is an excellent illustration of the added value that EU investment can bring for excellence, innovation and competitiveness by building bridges between academia, research and business."

Professor Roy Bicknell, who will lead the project from Birmingham, said: "The European Industrial Doctorate serves a great need in society. It enables medically and economically important research to go forward, while at the same time training the next generation of leading industrial scientists."

The European Industrial Doctorate was launched as a pilot project in 2012 as part of the Marie Curie Actions (MCA), the European research fellowship programme. The aim of the EID scheme is to provide PhD candidates with professional experience in excellent research projects, as well as to attract more young people into scientific careers.

To be eligible for funding through the EID, a project must bring together one business and one academic partner from two countries. The three-year EID grant enables researchers to alternate between working in both countries, in university laboratories and business premises, under the mentorship of supervisors from the private sector and the university. The training incorporates non-scientific skills such as entrepreneurship, communication and intellectual property management in the curriculum.

The EID grants will be maintained under the renamed Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions as part of the new EU Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation, which starts in January next year.


The Marie Curie Actions promote research careers in Europe with funding managed by the European Commission. By the end of 2013, the Marie Curie Actions will have supported 60 000 researchers of nearly 130 different nationalities since 1996. More than half of the research supported through the programme is dedicated to societal challenges such as health, climate change and energy scarcity. 37% of the researchers funded through the programme are women and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for more than half of all participating businesses. The budget for the Marie Curie Actions is €4.7 billion in 2007-2013.

The new Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) will become the main EU programme to support excellent doctoral training. In 2014-2020, the MSCA will provide grants for 25 000 PhD researchers in the form of European Industrial Doctorates, joint doctorates (involving several universities), and other high-quality research training. The MSCA will place emphasis on training which combines research with other skills that maximise employability such as management, entrepreneurship and communication expertise. The European Parliament and Member States recently agreed the MSCA will account for 8% of the overall Horizon 2020 budget. However, this decision still needs to be formally adopted by the European institutions.

For more information

European Commission: Education and training

Androulla Vassiliou's website

Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58); Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

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