EC announces package of funding for societal challenges

The European Commission has announced a package under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to kick-start innovation through research.

Nearly €7bn (£6.1bn) will be made available to tackle what the EC believes to be ‘key societal challenges’ and provide more support to help bridge the gap between research and the market.

The EC predicts the funding will create around 174,000 jobs in the short term and provide €80bn in GDP growth over 15 years.

‘EU-wide competition for these funds will bring Europe’s best researchers and innovators together to tackle the biggest issues of our time, such as energy, food security, climate change and our ageing population,’ said EC commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

A total of €220m of the €656m available for health research, and €240m of the €1.3bn in funding for information and communication technology (ICT), will be allocated to work aimed at tackling the challenge of providing for an ageing population.

The rest of the ICT funding will go to developments in network and service infrastructures, nano-/micro-systems, photonics and robotics, digital content and language technologies, and for applications such as ICT for health and ICT for energy efficiency.

Environment research will benefit from €265m of funding to help address major challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss or resource efficiency.

Alongside this, €307m will be invested in building a strong bio-economy that is hoped to improve production methods, create new industries and provide jobs in response to the increasing demand for safer, healthier food and sustainable bio-resources.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been given particular attention in the funding. In addition to newly simplified rules, an investment package of almost €1bn will be available for SMEs.

Around €488m has been allocated for nanotechnologies and research will focus on areas such as factories of the future, green cars and energy-efficient buildings.

Research and innovation for cleaner, safer and more efficient transport and mobility will get €313m.

Finally, the EC has set aside €40m for the Smart Cities initiative to help find more efficient ways to use energy and provide urban transport.