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European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
"Horizon 2020: the Opportunities for Ireland"
Launch of Horizon 2020 / Dublin
10 December 2013
Minister Sherlock, Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here today for the official launch of Horizon 2020 in Ireland.
It is a pleasure to come to Dublin with some very good news: tomorrow, we publish the first calls for proposals of Horizon 2020, the EU's new programme for research and innovation.
It has been a long and sometimes arduous journey to get to this point.
But when the home straight was in sight, I knew that the best place to celebrate would be Dublin.
Minister Sherlock and his colleagues have been instrumental in getting us here.
Under the leadership of the Irish Presidency, political agreement was reached on Horizon 2020 in June this year.
And the final hurdle was cleared last week when Member States formally adopted the programme.
Everyone involved in Horizon 2020 certainly has reason to celebrate.
Over the next seven years, we will use every cent of Horizon 2020′s budget to build a stronger, more innovative and more competitive Europe, and improve the quality of life for everyone.
With 79 billion euro over seven years, Horizon 2020 is one of the few areas of the EU’s new budget that sees a major increase in resources. This is a strong signal from the Member States of the importance of continuing to invest now in the drivers of the economy of tomorrow.
I am determined that this additional money – which represents a roughly 30 per cent increase in real terms on the 7th Framework Programme for Research – will be invested as wisely and efficiently as possible.
Because Horizon 2020 is not just about research and innovation, crucial though they are.
Horizon 2020 has much bigger ambitions – to play a major role in Europe's fight for jobs and growth.
I think we have really succeeded in our overarching goal of a more coherent, simpler programme that will make it easier to participate, especially for smaller research organisations and small businesses.
For the first time all EU-level funding for research and innovation is under one roof, providing support at every step from lab to factory to market.
We have slashed red tape. While the previous generation of programmes has lots of different rules, Horizon 2020 applies the same rules everywhere. Project will now be up and running in eight months – that's four months earlier than under the current system.
Horizon 2020 has been designed from the beginning to get more people, companies and organisations involved. So who stands to benefit?
First and foremost, Horizon 2020 will be good for Europe's citizens.
With its focus on delivering both economic and societal impacts, Horizon 2020 will tackle the issues that matter most to people: stimulating growth and competitiveness, creating new and better jobs and finding answers to our biggest societal challenges.
This is because the challenges facing Europe cannot be solved by a single field of science or technology, let alone a single Member State.
It will enable the world's best scientists to push back the frontiers of knowledge in universities and research centres across Europe, thanks to a bigger budget for the prestigious European Research Council and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions on researcher training, mobility and careers.
Horizon 2020 will be good for the researchers who want to collaborate across borders to develop new technologies that will help us tackle challenges like climate change, energy security or public health.
Horizon 2020 will be good for businesses that spot the market potential of the results of this excellent research because Horizon 2020 will accompany and support them with new close-to-market actions.
The industrial leadership pillar will promote even greater industry involvement and leverage of investment, including dedicated support for ICT, nanotechnology, materials and production technology, more public-private partnerships, and reinforced support for demand-driven innovation like innovation procurement.
Companies in Ireland are very well placed to seize opportunities in many of these areas.
Five Public/Private Partnerships - dealing with innovative medicines; fuel cells and hydrogen; aeronautics; bio-based industries; and electronics - are expected to mobilise up to around 22 billion euro of investments, with 8 billion coming from the EU. These Partnerships offer huge opportunities for researchers and companies in Ireland, including SMEs.
Indeed, Horizon 2020 has been designed to be good for SMEs. Research and innovation for our most innovative small and medium sized companies is promoted across Horizon 2020 as a whole, but we are also introducing a new instrument tailored to their specific needs.
The new SME instrument and the new financing options in the form of risk-sharing (through guarantees) or risk finance (through loans and equity) to support innovative companies could be especially interesting for Irish SMEs.
Horizon 2020 will also be good for regions that are currently lagging behind, with measures to spread excellence, widen participation and encourage smart specialisation.
I have been working closely with Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for Regional Policy, to ensure that the Structural Funds work in harmony with Horizon 2020 to step up Europe's research and innovation performance in fiercely competitive global markets.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Horizon 2020 offers a goldmine of opportunities to researchers and innovators in Ireland.
Building on your experience in FP7 is a good way to begin.
So far, Irish participants have drawn down 572 million Euro from FP7, just a whisker short of the 600 million target, which will soon be topped I am sure.
I know that Minister Sherlock has announced a bigger target of a minimum of 1 billion Euro under Horizon 2020.
This means that Irish applicants will have to raise their game in the face of growing competition for funding across Europe.
I have no doubt that you will manage to do it. I say this for several reasons.
Ireland has already been successful under FP7 in the areas of ICT, Health, the Marie Curie Actions and the ERC, Nanosciences and Food, agriculture and the bioeconomy.
There will be bigger opportunities in all these areas, but Horizon 2020 will also support research and innovation in cross-cutting areas where Ireland has traditional strengths: innovative SMEs, research in industry and public/private partnerships.
Ireland ranks above average, as an "innovation follower", on the Innovation Union Scoreboard.
As regards knowledge transfer, a recent study by the Commission shows that Ireland is the top Member State in terms of implementing the Commission Recommendation in this respect. Ireland is very efficient at generating patent applications, licences and spinoffs from investments.
And according to another analysis, Ireland is Europe's most entrepreneurial country on the basis of venture capital raised per head of population over the last decade, attracting four times the European average.
Irish participants are also in an excellent position to benefit from new market-based support – the financial instruments and the fast-track to innovation pilot.
These are just some of the reasons why I am very confident that researchers and universities, businesses and innovators from across Ireland will make the most of Horizon 2020.
We designed the programme, from the beginning, to help Europe's researchers and innovators achieve their very best.
Reform wasn't always easy, but it has been very worthwhile.
But a brand new European programme for research and innovation is only one part of the puzzle.
I give a similar message wherever I go in Europe: we need to keep on investing in research and innovation and keep on reforming and improving national research systems so that they are fit for purpose.
Having fought hard for an increased budget for research and innovation at European level, I know that everyone here is determined to do the same for Ireland.
And I know that reform is not easy. Take it from someone who has been through the process with Horizon 2020! But having steered a course of simplification in Horizon 2020, I encourage you to take an honest look at any rules in your national research and innovation system that could be simplified.
Dear colleagues, dear friends,
You will each have your own reasons for participating, whether you are a scientist with an idea for ground-breaking research; an SME that is ready to market test your innovative new product; or a university aiming for excellence.
Whatever your reasons for participating, you will be helping ensure that Irelands' future will be built on excellent research and world-beating innovation.
Horizon 2020 is Ireland's "Billion Euro opportunity" – seize it!