Brussels, 22 July 2014
Commission announces €100 million Fast Track to Innovation and five innovation prizes
The European Commission today presents details of a new €100 million "Fast Track to Innovation" (FTI) pilot action and five innovation prizes under Horizon 2020, the European Union's €80 billion research and innovation programme. The FTI aims to support Europe's economy by offering innovative businesses and organisations grants to give a final push to get great ideas to market. The prizes offer a reward for technological breakthroughs of high societal relevance. The initiatives underscore the drive to support innovation in Europe as part of the first, two-year Horizon 2020 work programme. Today's announcement also confirms the €7 billion for Horizon 2020 calls during 2015 and sets out the timetable for applications (MEMO/14/492).
European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "The response to the first Horizon 2020 calls has been enormous, with more than 17,000 proposals already submitted. I am impressed by the clear rise in industry interest, particularly from small businesses. Today we are firing the starting gun on the 2015 calls and I am confident they will meet equally strong demand. The Fast Track to Innovation and the new prizes will provide even more opportunities for innovators across Europe to get involved. With these measures we are contributing to increase Europe's competitiveness and create growth and jobs."
The Fast Track to Innovation scheme will be open to applications from January 2015. It will support small consortia of three to five organisations with strong business participation to give promising ideas the last push before entering the market. It is open to ideas in any area of technology or application and to any legal entity established in the EU or in a country associated to Horizon 2020.
The contests for the five innovation prizes will start in late 2014 and early 2015. The prizes, worth €6 million in 2015, cover three different thematic areas of research: health ("Reduction of the Use of Antibiotics Prize", "Food-Scanner Prize"), the environment ("Reduction of Air Pollution Prize") and ICT ("Collaborative Sharing of Spectrum", "Optical Transmission Prize").
The updated Work Programme adopted today confirms details of the calls for proposals for 2015 first announced last December and specifies the deadlines for proposals (see IP/13/1232). All funding opportunities under Horizon 2020 are accessible from the Participant portal.
Response to the first Horizon 2020 calls
The response to the first Horizon 2020 calls announced in December has been enormous, with over 17,000 proposals submitted by end-June, seeking nine times the available funding. This marks a substantial increase from the previous 7th Framework Programme (FP7) and a higher level of competition. There has been a notable increase in applications from industry, with business applications to the "industrial leadership" and "societal challenges" pillars of Horizon representing 44 percent of the total compared with 30 percent under comparable areas of FP7. SME participation is particularly strong, with over 5,500 SME applications to the Horizon calls on encouraging leadership in enabling and industrial technologies and nearly 2,700 applications for funding under the new €3 billion SME Instrument.
Horizon 2020 is the EU's biggest ever research and innovation framework programme with a seven year budget worth nearly €80 billion. Most EU research funding is allocated on the basis of competitive calls, but the budget for Horizon also includes funding for the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission's in-house science service; the European Institute for Innovation and Technology and research carried out within the framework of the Euratom Treaty. Separate calls are also published under specific partnerships with industry and with Member States (see IP/13/668 and IP/14/796). In 2015 the total EU research budget, including these items and administrative expenditure, will be around €9.9 billion.
For more information
MEMO/13/1085: Horizon 2020 – the EU's new research and innovation programme