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Strong research and innovation fuels economic growth in EU

 Providing easier access to funding is key for intensifying research and innovation in Europe, and in turn helps bolster participation, boosts value for money and makes a bigger impact on both the scientific and economic spheres. The European Commission on 9 February got a consultation off the ground on ways to revamp the EU's research funding schemes and ensure a solid future for European research and innovation.

Officials have proposed the 'Common Strategic Framework' that is set out in a Green Paper. Two key frameworks are covered - the current Framework Programme for Research (FP7) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) - as well as the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which is designed to link up the three sides of the 'knowledge triangle', namely research, education and innovation.

This framework targets three crucial objectives: ensuring that the EU maintains a strong foothold on the scientific research world; that competitiveness increases; and that global challenges, including food security, resource efficiency and climate change, are resolved.

The EU is mulling over various ways of making accessing EU funding much less troublesome for interested parties, including offering a single 'hub' for researchers who need advice, and providing a single entry point with common IT (information technology) tools.

A simpler and more streamlined set of funding instruments covering the entire innovative chain is expected to materialise. Included in this chain are basic and applied researches, as well as partnerships between academia and industry and firm-level innovation.

Moreover, the framework places particular emphasis on making things more flexible, thus encouraging diversity and participation of businesspeople. For example, the Commission believes applicants should be given the opportunity to apply for various projects without having to repeat information they have already submitted.

Also under consideration is the use of lump sum payments in future funding to ensure complexity-free yet consistent accounting procedures for the funds obtained.

'Our aim is to maximise value from every euro the EU invests in research and innovation,' says Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. 'We want EU funding to realise its enormous potential to generate growth and jobs and improve quality of life in Europe in the face of daunting challenges like climate change, energy efficiency and food security. By making our programmes more coherent and simpler, we will make life easier for researchers and innovators - especially SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises], attract more applicants and get even better results. I look forward to an extensive and innovative debate, making use of the web and social media.'

The European Commission hopes that overhauling the system will culminate in a strong Innovation Union and help the EU and citizens meet the goals of the European 2020 Strategy. Stakeholders have until 20 May 2011 to make their own contributions, and the Commission will hold a major closing conference as a follow-up to the public consultation, where the name for the new framework will be revealed.

The Commission is due to present by December a legislative proposal for research and innovation spending under the future EU budget after 2013.

Latest data show that more than 9,000 projects have been funded under FP7, and a study has estimated that projects selected for funding just in this year will result in 165,000 new jobs.

Source: CORDIS

For more information, please visit: Consultation on Green Paper:

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