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EC unveils €80bn R&D investment programme

Horizon 2020 scheme designed to tackle ‘innovation emergency’ welcomed by European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries & Associations

The European Commission (EC) has launched an €80bn package of measures designed to boost research, innovation and competitiveness in the EU over the remainder of the decade.

The Horizon 2020 scheme represents a dramatic shake-up of the way R&D is managed at the EU level, with funding now governed for the first time under a single programme, and will also do away with much of the red tape that can hamper R&D, according to the Commission.

The programme will run from 2014 to 2020, and include a dedicated budget of €25bn for EU science with a 77 per cent increase in funding for the European Research Council to €13bn.

Another €18bn will go on strengthening industrial leadership, with the money earmarked for investment in technologies, providing greater access to capital and supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Finally, almost €32bn has been set aside to address "major concerns shared by all Europeans such as climate change, developing sustainable transport and mobility, making renewable energy more affordable, ensuring food safety and security, or coping with the challenge of an ageing population," according to the EC.

"I've said many times that we have an innovation emergency in Europe, and Horizon 2020 is our response to that emergency," commented Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.

"We need a new vision for European research and innovation in a dramatically changed economic environment."

The news was welcomed by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries & Associations (EFPIA), which said it was pleased by the emphasis placed on public private partnerships in the Horizon 2020 document.

Richard Bergström, director general of EFPIA, pointed to the success of schemes such as the Innovative Medicines Initiative, which has been funded with €1bn apiece from the Commission and industry and promotes collaboration between pharma companies, academia and SMEs.

"EFPIA confirms industry interest in continuing public private collaborations which will enable game changing biopharmaceutical research projects that address scientific and technological bottlenecks in areas with grand societal challenges, such as antimicrobial resistance," he said.

Horizon 2020 will now be discussed by the European Parliament and by EU Member States.

1st December 2011

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