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European Commission


Member of the European Commission responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and EIT: investing in research excellence and the entrepreneurs of tomorrow

Horizon 2020 Plenary Debate, European Parliament /Strasbourg

19 November 2013


Honourable Members, Minister,

I would like to thank the Rapporteurs and all the Members of Parliament who have shown great determination to strengthen education, research and innovation in Europe.

Today, as mentioned by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, you have the chance to pave the way for the new Horizon 2020 programme.

This agreement will encompass two initiatives under my responsibility: the European Institute of Innovation and Technology – the EIT – and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.

At a time when Europe is severely challenged by sluggish economic growth, it is more important than ever that we find innovative ways of creating our future prosperity. Today you have the opportunity to lay the foundations which can contribute to that future growth, help reframe the structure of our economy, and put society's interests at the core of our policies. This is a deeply positive story about Europe that we should all be telling.

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions will have a budget of €6.1 billion: this represents an increase of 30% on current funding.

These actions will strengthen our support for researchers in Europe by combining mobility across countries and sectors with excellence in research and top-quality training. In other words, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions will build on the great progress we have already made.

We have already supported more than 75,000 researchers of 130 different nationalities since the creation of the programme and we expect, in the next period of seven years, to support a further 65,000 of them.

The new Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions will fund industrial doctorates – programmes which require researchers to spend half of their time in industry – as well as joint doctorates, and other innovative forms of research training that provide experience outside academia.

It is not by chance that some 30 Marie Curie researchers took part in the research which led to the discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, and to the Nobel Prize for physics awarded to Peter Higgs and François Englert. Marie Curie supports excellence and it will continue to do so.

The second initiative I want to mention is the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

Over the last three years, we have successfully tested the concept of the EIT and produced promising results. By putting universities at the centre of the innovation chain and by gathering all the actors of innovation – businesses, research centres, universities, local authorities – within structured and well governed public-private partnership – the so-called KICs – the EIT is bringing about a step-change in the way we address innovation in Europe.

With more than 350 partners directly involved across Europe, the EIT has already created more than 100 start-ups, around 90 new services or products, and more than 400 business ideas which are still being incubated. By the end of the year, more than 1,000 students will have been trained in Master courses bearing the EIT label.

With the EIT we are investing in the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, and in the capacity of Europe to innovate and to remain competitive.

With a budget of more than €2.7 billion, we will be able to ensure that the EIT grows in strength by giving enhanced support to the existing KICs and gradually launching five new KICs over the next seven years.

We will make sure that the benefits of the EIT's work are shared across Europe. In particular, the Regional Innovation Scheme, spearheaded by the European Parliament, will only strengthen the tools that the KICs use to share their experience and best practices as widely as possible.

I would like to thank the Rapporteurs of Horizon 2020, in particular Ms Matias and Mr Lamberts, Mrs Madurell, Mr Ehler – but also all the shadow rapporteurs – for their outstanding work on the EIT files. A special thanks to Mrs Carvalho for her support through the Friends of the EIT group.

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