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EU to simplify research funding

The European Commission has said research and innovation in the EU will be simplified with a focus on attracting smaller companies

The European Commission (EC) has said research and innovation in the European Union (EU) will be simplified with a focus on attracting small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, commissioner for research, innovation and science with the EC outlined three specific measures to cut the 'red tape' involved in the EU's FP7 research programme – a system to fund all research-related initiatives in the region.

The three measures are:
• Greater flexibility in the way claiming back costs for staff are calculated, allowing researchers to use their own methods of accounting rather than being forced to set up a parallel system in accordance with FP7 standards
• SME owners and managers will be eligible to be reimbursed for time spent on projects funded by FP7
• A director group of senior officials from all EC departments will be set up to ensure consistency in the way funding is given.

Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Today's measures will allow the many thousands of excellent people we fund to save time and effort on paperwork and concentrate on what they do best - working to boost growth and jobs and improve our quality of life in Europe through world class research and innovation."

"This is only the start: the Commission has already proposed big changes to the overall financial rules governing all EU funding programmes, and if the Parliament and Council agree with those, we will put forward more radical simplification measures for the successor programme to FP7."

Over 40,000 proposals for FP7 have been received since 2007, with funding made available to 8,000. Around 15 per cent of applicants are SMEs.

Legislative proposals for the next EU research and innovation programme to follow FP7 will be presented by the end of 2011. An open consultation will precede this presentation.

25th January 2011

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