EU and industry commit over €22bn to innovative projects

The European Commission, EU Member States and European industry will invest more than €22bn over the next seven years in innovation for sectors that deliver high quality jobs.

Most of the investment will go to five public-private partnerships in medicines, aeronautics, bio-based industries, fuel cells and hydrogen, and electronics.

These research partnerships are expected to boost the competitiveness of EU industry in sectors that already provide more than four million jobs. They will also aim to find solutions to major challenges, such as reducing carbon emissions or providing the next generation of antibiotics.

The package also proposes to extend an initiative to pool research and innovation investments in Air Traffic Management (SESAR), in support of the Single European Sky.

In a statement José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said, ‘The EU must remain a leader in strategic global technology sectors that provide high quality jobs.

‘This innovation investment package combines public and private funding to do just that. This is a perfect demonstration of the leverage effect of the EU budget for growth and jobs.’

Overall, a proposed €8bn investment from the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, will secure around €10bn from industry, and close to €4bn from EU Member States.

The five Public-Private Partnerships, called Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), are:

  • Innovative Medicines 2 (IMI2): to develop next generation vaccines, medicines and treatments, such as new antibiotics
  • Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 (FCH2): to expand the use of clean and efficient technologies in transport, industry and energy
  • Clean Sky 2 (CS2): to develop cleaner, quieter aircraft with significantly less CO2 emissions
  • Bio-based Industries (BBI): to use renewable natural resources and innovative technologies for greener everyday products
  • Electronic Components and Systems (ECSEL): to boost Europe’s electronics manufacturing capabilities

Today’s announcement was welcomed by AFC Energy, an industrial fuel cell company already engaged in three projects that have either received funding or are scheduled to receive funding.

Ian Williamson, chief executive officer, AFC Energy said, ‘AFC Energy is already deeply involved in commercialising fuel cells for the industrial sector…The new funding will provide further visibility and sources of research funds for both the sector in general and AFC Energy specifically as we develop and commercialise our technology.’

AFC Energy’s three projects are:

  • Project LASER-CELL: AFC Energy is leading a group of companies who are all interested in developing innovative high-volume production technologies which can be used to manufacture alkaline fuel cell components. The project is due to run for three years and will run in parallel with the Company’s current development programme. The Company’s work in this area is supported by a €1.4m grant
  • Alkammonia: A grant of up to €1.96m allows AFC to continue to develop its knowledge of different hydrogen supply feedstocks for integration with its fuel cell system. Initial laboratory tests have indicated that the technology will integrate well with ammonia-fed systems. This project will expand knowledge in the area and lead to an initial integrated system design
  • Power Up: The JTI is to contribute €6.1m for AFC’s scaled up, commercial demonstration project. In this project AFC will be delivering its first full scale commercial system capable of supplying enough power for up to 500 homes. The system will be delivered in stages over the period of the project