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Brussels, 22 July 2014
First Horizon 2020 Work Programme update – launch of FTI and innovation prizes
The adoption today of the updated 2014-2015 Horizon 2020 Work Programme confirms the amounts for the actions to be implemented through next year's budget – see table at the end of this document – and brings in two main novelties presented here: a new pilot call for Fast Track to Innovation and five research Innovation Prizes.
What is the Fast Track to Innovation?
The Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) pilot is the only measure in Horizon 2020 that provides funding for close to market, business driven projects, that is open to proposals in any area of technology or application. This thematic openness – combined with the possibility for all kinds of innovation actors to work together and deliver innovation onto the market and/or into society – should nurture trans-disciplinary and cross-sector cooperation. Unlike the SME Instrument or the Eurostars programme, it is not restricted to SMEs but it does require strong business involvement. The aim is to reduce time from idea to market, stimulate the participation of first-time applicants to EU research funding and increase private sector investment in research and innovation.
Who can participate in FTI?
Proposals for funding must be submitted by consortia comprising between three and five legal entities established in at least three different EU Member States or countries associated to Horizon 2020. Actions funded under the pilot are to be ‘business-driven’ because they are intended to give promising innovation ideas the last push before entering the market. Therefore, substantial industry involvement in FTI actions will be mandatory to ensure quick market take-up (‘quick’ meaning within a three-year period after the start of the FTI-action). This industry involvement requires:
How will FTI be implemented?
The FTI Pilot will be implemented in 2015 and 2016 with a total budget of €200 million (€100 million per year) across the Horizon 2020 priority “Societal Challenges” and the specific objective “Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEITs)”, without further topical restrictions. The pilot will be implemented through one common and continuously open call, meaning that proposals can be submitted at any time. Proposals will be evaluated and ranked and funding decisions taken after three cut-off dates each year.
Proposals should build on a business plan, and focus foremost on achieving high impact (corresponding to a score of minimum 4 out of 5 during evaluation). As for proposals for other Horizon 2020 innovation actions, “excellence” and “implementation” will also be assessed, but only if the minimum threshold for the “impact” criterion is achieved. Other factors playing a role during the evaluation process will be the size of the budget allocated to industry participants (including SMEs), the number of industry participants and gender balance of the staff representing the consortium in the proposal.
Time-to-grant for participants will be six months at most. As for other innovation actions, EU funding levels are fixed at 70% of the eligible costs1. The indicative EU contribution per action is expected to be between €1 million and €2 million; in duly justified cases, an EU contribution of up to €3 million can be considered.
When will FTI start?
The Fast Track to Innovation scheme will be open for applications as of January 6 20152. Proposals can be submitted at any time as of that date, and they will be ranked following three cut-off dates in 2015: April 29, September 1 and December 1. The three cut-off dates for 2016 will be made public at a later time.
What happens to FTI after 2016?
Continuation of the Fast Track to Innovation beyond 2016 will depend on the results of an in-depth evaluation of the pilot scheme.
What are Innovation Prizes?
Horizon 2020 introduces innovation prizes ("inducement prizes") as an instrument to deliver breakthrough solutions to problems of societal interest in Europe (energy security, climate change, ageing society, public health, etc.). In an open competition, a cash prize is awarded for the accomplishment of a challenge. The target is defined and specified through award criteria, but without prescribing how it should be achieved. Compared with traditional funding tools– such as grants and scholarships – prizes spark innovative breakthrough solutions to problems of critical importance to Europe's future (energy security, public health, ageing society, etc.). The first ever EU inducement prize was awarded in March 2014 and dedicated to "Innovative Vaccine Technology" (IP/14/229).
What challenges is the Commission offering prizes for?
Reducing the Mis-use of Antibiotics Prize
Prize money: €1 million
Timeline: Contest opens at the beginning of 2015 and runs until summer 2016
The problem of antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest challenges facing society today. The scale of the problem is related to the vast and diverse number of infections for which antibiotics are needed. These conditions are often difficult to diagnose and misapplication of antibiotics as a cautionary or pre-emptive measure are a major driver for the development of resistance. Upper respiratory tract infections are a major reason for the prescription of antibiotics. This Prize will reward a rapid test that can identify at the point of care patients with upper respiratory tract infections that can be managed safely without antibiotics.
The primary objectives are: to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics in case of viral upper respiratory tract infections, or absence of infections; to reduce costs and side effects linked to the use of antibiotics; to decrease the emergence of antibiotic resistant organisms; to enable health-care providers to take early and informed decisions in the management of upper respiratory tract infections (rapid initiation and cessation of treatment) and to facilitate the health care provider’s decision not to prescribe antibiotics in case of viral infections and to facilitate patients’ acceptance of not taking antibiotics for viral infections; to tackle the widespread and significant health care issue of respiratory infections.
How does this prize differ to the UK's Longitude Prize 2014 for Antibiotics?
In June 2014, the UK announced a "Longitude Prize 2014" for antibiotics which will be launched 6 October 2014. The Horizon 2020 prize and the UK Longitude Prize are two different but complementary initiatives and the organisers of both prizes are cooperating closely. The table below gives an indication of the main differences:
Prize money: €1 million
Timeline: Contest opens at the beginning of 2015 and runs until end of 2015
The objective is to unlock the eHealth market with solutions that support citizens in adopting a more active lifestyle and in improving their health by better monitoring food intake. The expected results are an eHealth solution that enables citizens to assess their food intake and provide optimal recommendations to improve their health and well-being. The solution should benefit a wide range of the EU population, from healthy citizens to citizens suffering from food disorders, obesity or allergies.
Reduction of Air Pollution Prize
Prize money: €3 million
Timeline: Contest opens at the beginning of 2015 and runs until end of 2018
In the EU, average life expectancy is estimated to be decreased by 8.6 months because of exposure to air pollution resulting from human activities. The inhalation of particulate matter can also lead to adverse effects in the respiratory, cardiovascular, immune, and neural systems. In addition to its impact on human health, particulate matter can also have adverse effects on climate change and ecosystems. The objective of the prize is to reduce particulate matter air pollution in urban areas through the development of innovative material solutions. These solutions should be design-driven, affordable and sustainable, and they should demonstrate that they can effectively remove and/or prevent the formation of particulate matter in the atmosphere (vehicle exhaust systems will be excluded).
Collaborative Sharing of Spectrum Prize
Prize money: €0.5 million
Timeline: Contest opens at the beginning of 2015 and runs until end-2015
The objective is to provide innovative yet implementable solutions enabling a significant improvement in the usage of scarce spectrum resources, thus unlocking the expected capacity crunch of wireless networks faced with booming traffic and usages. The prize will reward a solution which presents one or several innovative methods focusing on empowerment of local user communities with decentralised spectrum management capabilities through "collaborative spectrum sharing". The target is to show technical feasibility of disruptive spectrum access and sharing methods, which go beyond the traditional cellular evolution, and centralised sharing approaches.
Breaking the optical transmission barriers Prize
Prize money: €0.5 million
Timeline: Contest opens at the end of 2014 and runs until the beginning of 2016
The prize should reward radical breakthrough solutions in the field of optical fibre transmission which will ultimately find their way into our future optical fibre networks. The solution produced will assist in supporting networks that deliver the insatiable demand for bandwidth, and in providing the resources for future applications. The expected breakthrough solution should overcome the limitation of long distance fibre transmission systems, in terms of overall fibre capacity, capacity per channel, flexibility of capacity allocation among network parts, and distance without full regeneration, while surpassing the 1Tb/s per wavelength channel that is considered to be introduced at the commercial level in the near future, beyond the 400Gb/s systems currently being introduced. It should also address the aspects of energy efficiency and economic viability of such breakthrough systems.
Except for non-profit legal entities, where a rate of 100% applies.
This date is subject to be modified by up to one month.