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European Commission


European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science

Horizon 2020 – first calls

Press conference/Brussels

11 December 2013

Ladies and gentlemen,

It's time to get down to business. After all the talk and the seemingly endless negotiations around the EU budget, today we are starting to put that money to good use.

Over the next two years we will channel more than 15 billion euro in funding to the best ideas that Europe has to offer.

The money is the first instalment from Horizon 2020, our new research and innovation programme that is worth nearly 80 billion euro over the next seven years.

This is funding that is sorely needed.

It is funding that is needed by researchers, who in many countries are finding national science budgets squeezed, and little money available for pan-European cooperation.

It is funding that will be welcomed by businesses – both big and small, who need research and innovation to remain competitive in global markets.

Above all this funding is for citizens, because only by investing in research and innovation will Europe find solutions to the big challenges that our societies face, and only by investing in research and innovation will we generate good, sustainable jobs in our economies.

I have said many times in this press room and elsewhere that Europe badly needs new ideas. Today we are asking for new ideas by announcing our first calls for proposals under Horizon 2020.

For the first time, the Commission has indicated funding priorities over two years, providing researchers and businesses with more certainty than ever before on the direction of EU research policy.

The calls in the 2014 budget alone are worth around €7.8 billion, and are mainly under our three pillars of Horizon 2020.

Under Horizon 2020's "Excellent Science" pillar, in 2014 we will provide €1.7 billion in European Research Council grants to top scientists, helping retain and attract the best brains in the world; and €800 million to younger researchers seeking to develop their careers using Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships.

Under Horizon 2020's "Industrial Leadership" pillar worth €1.8 billion in 2014, we will fund ground breaking research in areas like ICT and nano-materials, as well as help support partnerships with industry.

And under our "Societal Challenges" pillar we will invest a total of €2.8 billion in 2014 in projects that address issues such as public health, clean transport and food security.

To give just a few examples, there are calls to develop:

  • new therapies for chronic diseases;

  • tomorrow's computers and mobile phone networks;

  • ways to convert carbon dioxide into useful chemicals;

  • next-generation batteries for electric cars;

  • and special diets to combat malnutrition in the elderly.

When proposing Horizon 2020 we promised to make a special effort to support small- and medium-sized enterprises, and we are keeping that promise by earmarking €500 million over the next two years to our dedicated SME Instrument.

More money than ever before will be available for testing, prototyping, demonstration and pilot type activities, for business-driven R&D, for promoting entrepreneurship and risk-taking, and for shaping demand for innovative products and services. In short, Horizon 2020 helps companies to reap the full commercial rewards from in-house innovation.

The calls we are announcing today also address the cross-cutting issues – including gender, climate action and social sciences and humanities – that run right across the Horizon 2020 Work Programme. There is also funding to foster dialogue and understanding between science and society.

One of the real innovations of Horizon 2020 is our challenge-based approach. We are defining the problem, and asking participants to tell us the best way to get the job done.

The calls are set out in Work Programmes that address each part of Horizon 2020. The challenge based approach is best represented by the special 'focus areas' we have identified, including personalised health care, blue growth, and energy efficiency.

The bulk of the 2014 calls will be published today on our dedicated portal for research funding. The remainder will be released over the course of next year and the year after, once there is a formal agreement on their content and the 2015 budget.

The Participant Portal has been redesigned to make Horizon 2020 simpler than ever to take part in. This is all part of our effort to cut red tape and make EU research funding as simple and open as possible.

Participants will find smarter, simpler programme architecture, a clearer funding model, a single set of rules across the whole programme, and reduced burden from financial controls and audits.

So today we are firing the starting gun on Horizon 2020. Only the quickest out of the blocks and the fittest will have a chance of securing funding in this first round and start contributing to Europe's future. We have no time to waste.

Thank you.

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