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European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science

Remarks at press conference launching Horizon 2020

Press conference

Brussels, 30 November 2011

Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for coming.

Horizon 2020, the European Union's proposed new research and innovation programme, is a break from the past and an investment in our future.

Running from 2014 to 2020, it is a programme to stimulate growth and jobs. It is designed to help the EU achieve the ambitious goals it set for itself under the Europe 2020 Strategy and Innovation Union.

Our focus is on supporting the best research ideas that provide major business opportunities and change people’s lives for the better.

For the first time at European level, Horizon 2020 offers a seamless, coherent package of support from idea to market, from excellent research to innovative products and services that people want to buy.

Horizon 2020 will make our investment in research and innovation simpler, more efficient, and more effective at delivering the bigger impacts needed to sustain growth and tackle at European level the biggest challenges that really matter to people, such as climate change, health, energy and food security.

The first aim of this simplification is to bring all European funding for research and innovation under one umbrella for the first time. There will be one single set of participation rules for the whole programme.

Horizon 2020 means more research and less bureaucracy - we are slashing red-tape to make it easier to access financing.

We want our scientists and innovators to spend more time in the laboratory or workshop and less time filling in forms.

I introduced a number of simplification measures earlier this year for the 7th Framework Programme, and Horizon 2020 ushers in a much more radical simplification.

Funding will have a simpler and more coherent structure with simpler and more coherent rules. We are moving from several different funding rates for different beneficiaries and different activities to just two.

We are replacing the four different methods currently used to calculate a project's overheads or 'indirect costs' with a single flat rate.

And we want successful applicants to get working more quickly: Horizon 2020 aims to reduce the average time to grant by 100 days, compared to the current average of around 350 days under the 7th Framework Programme.

The simpler and more coherent structure of Horizon 2020 is composed of three distinct, yet mutually reinforcing priorities where there are clear advantages to be gained at working together at European level.

Innovation starts with excellent research. Horizon 2020's first pillar is aimed at boosting excellence in Europe's science base. A proposed investment of over 24 billion Euro, will enable the most talented scientists to carry out cutting edge research of the highest quality.

Frontier research is not academic indulgence, since breakthroughs can come from unexpected sources. We propose doubling to more than 13 billion Euro our support to the spectacularly successful European Research Council, securing the best fundamental research that leads to the greatest innovations.

Horizon 2020 will also increase to 2.8 billion Euro support for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), based in Hungary, that combines excellent research, education and innovation, the three sides of the 'knowledge triangle'.

The Commission has also decided to change the official name of the current Marie Curie programme to "Marie Sklodowska Curie"; the name that this extraordinary woman used herself. The Commission proposes to allocate 5.75 billion Euro to this programme.

With a proposed budget of nearly 18 billion Euro, the second pillar of Horizon 2020 will aim to make Europe a more attractive place to invest in research and innovation.

A key part of this is an investment of nearly 6 billion Euro to secure Europe's lead in developing the Key Enabling Technologies - or KETs - that will be fundamental to our economy in the future. Technologies like nano, biotech, advanced manufacturing and advanced materials.

We will support activities that exploit the benefits that accumulate from combining a number of KETs, in particular through support for larger-scale pilot line and demonstrator projects.

These technologies will help us renew our economy, and they are also vital to finding high-tech solutions to challenges such as climate change, energy & food security, and healthy ageing.

We have designed Horizon 2020 to encourage the active participation of the biggest companies in Europe. They are major creators of wealth and jobs.

But SMEs are also vital to getting out of the financial and economic crisis. They are the back-bone of the European economy, comprising 99% of all European businesses and providing two out of three private sector jobs.

So, Horizon 2020 will also champion the interests of small firms. Google, Facebook, Twitter - not long ago these firms didn’t even exist, but now they are worth billions.

We want to see more companies like these in Europe, and that means giving them the help they need at the beginning. We will target help to SMEs with a specific instrument to support the most innovative among them.

Horizon 2020 will maximise the growth potential of our companies by providing them with adequate finance when they need it. The Debt Financing Instrument will provide loans and guarantees on a market-driven, first-come first served basis for investment in research and innovation.

The equity instrument will provide venture capital to individual start-ups and growing enterprises.

We will ensure that these measures leverage the maximum possible private investment, building on the outstanding success of the Risk-Sharing Finance facility that we have co-funded and managed with the European Investment Bank to promote riskier R&D and innovation.

We envisage that over 8 billion Euro will be invested in our SMEs across the different parts of Horizon 2020.

The third pillar of Horizon 2020, with a proposed budget of nearly 32 billion Euro, is focused on six of the most important societal challenges that concern everyone in Europe.

We can create a win-win situation by supporting research that will both tackle problems related to health, food security, energy, transport, climate change and a secure society; and at the same time that will create new business opportunities for European companies out of this response.

Here, as in all areas of Horizon 2020, we will make public money work better. We will get more bang for our buck, more research and innovation for every Euro invested. We will maximise the effect by leveraging as much money as possible from other public and private sources.

And we will ensure that Horizon 2020 is flexible enough to address new challenges and seize new opportunities as they arise. And we will conduct an extensive mid-term review to ensure that we are on the right track, and to ensure that money is being invested efficiently and effectively.

Because, fundamentally, support through Horizon 2020 for research, innovation and science is an economic policy.

Prioritising investment in these areas now is the recipe for ensuring growth and jobs in the future. A world class science base requires sufficient - and efficient - investment from both public and private sector.

One study shows that achieving the EU's target of investing 3% of GDP in R&D by 2020 could create 3.7 million jobs by 2025.

The European Commission's proposal to increase support for research and innovation under Horizon 2020 to 80 billion Euro is certainly ambitious but it is also very realistic and very necessary.

It fits with the approach being taken by many Member States to increase spending on research and innovation as the routes to future growth.

According to our latest figures, 21 out of the 27 Member States increased their public spend on R&D between 2007 and 2009. Some of the biggest gainers include Austria, Germany, Denmark, Finland and Portugal.

We need this upward trend to continue and to accelerate. But we can't let the public purse carry the whole burden.

Europe's companies also need to increase private sector investment in R&D. While this rose by 6.1% in the EU in 2010, European companies as a whole are lagging behind American, Chinese and South Korean competitors, who recorded increases in R&D spend in 2010 of 10%, 29.5% and 20.5% respectively.

And the European Union is doing all it can to make it easier and more attractive for companies to make the necessary investment in R&D and innovation.

Since it was launched a little over a year ago, Innovation Union has been improving the framework conditions that will encourage more private sector investment in research.

And don't forget that Horizon 2020 will also support our most innovative, research-driven businesses. The vast bulk of the money invested by Horizon 2020 will be spent in Member States – helping to create or safeguard jobs in research centres, universities, companies and SMEs across Europe.

Of course, excellence will remain the criterion for funding. We will fund the best projects regardless of where they take place. But we will complement this with measures to ensure that Horizon 2020 is open to the widest possible range of participants, including newcomers. Talent will be nurtured to grow into excellence, so that innovators and researchers from all over Europe can benefit.

Horizon 2020 will also support the European Research Area - a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation – principally through actions to promote researcher's careers and mobility; the networking of large-scale infrastructures; and, coordination with national research and innovation funding.

Our proposal for Horizon 2020 will now be put forward for discussion with the Member States in the European Council and with the European Parliament. I am committed to working with them to ensure that we get the most effective funding programme for research and innovation for Europe.

Where Europe is already a technology and research world-beater, Horizon 2020 will help us keep our lead.

And where Europe needs to catch up, Horizon 2020 will give our research centres and universities, our big companies and SMEs, the support they need to do better.

Vice–President Tajani will speak to you now about the new proposal on Business Competitiveness and SMEs, while Commissioner Vassiliou will talk about the Strategic Innovation Agenda of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

Thank you.

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