Brussels, 4 June 2014
Turkey joins Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme
Turkey will get full access to the European Union's new seven year research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, under an agreement signed today in Istanbul. The agreement granting association status to research entities from Turkey was signed by European Commission Director-General for Research and Innovation, Robert-Jan Smits, and Ahmet Yücel, Acting Undersecretary of Turkey's Ministry for EU Affairs. Turkey is the third EU partner country to become associated to Horizon 2020.
European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “Turkey is a much valued partner. Its dynamic business environment is a perfect test bed for the development of innovative products and services – making cooperation a win-win for researchers and enterprises on both sides. Horizon 2020 offers more funding for innovation and small companies than ever before so Turkey is in a good position to see its participation in the programme increasing."
Turkey has been associated to EU research framework programmes since 2003. Under the last programme (2007-13) over 1,000 participations from Turkish public and private institutions in some 950 projects received almost €200 million in EU funding. These included world-class science projects selected by the European Research Council and support for younger researchers under the Marie-Skłodowska Curie Actions. There were also more than 200 participations in joint research projects by Turkish Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
The large number of SMEs already successful under the last framework programme makes Turkey an attractive partner for research entities from the European Union given Horizon 2020's greater focus on the entire innovation chain, from the lab to the market. At the same it is expected that Turkey will use association to Horizon 2020 as an opportunity to strengthen its capacity building on research and innovation at national level. Its current level of investment in R&D of less than 1% of GDP is well below the EU average of just over 2% and the target it has set itself for 2023.
The agreement, which will come into force following Turkish ratification, was signed in the presence of Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Minister for Science, Industry and Technology Fikri Işik at the start of a two-day high-level conference to present Horizon 2020 to Turkish research organisations and policy makers. More than 750 representatives of Turkish universities and businesses are due to take part in the event.
In parallel to the agreement reached with Turkey, the EU is in the process of concluding association agreements with enlargement countries from the Western Balkans and other neighbouring countries. The EEA/EFTA states of Norway and Iceland joined Horizon 2020 at the beginning of May.
Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (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.