Horizon 2020, the EU’s €80B (approx. AUD $123B) research and innovation funding programme, supports scientific excellence in Europe and has contributed to high-profile scientific breakthroughs. The European Commission has presented the final Work Programme for Horizon 2020, covering the budgetary years 2018, 2019 and 2020 and representing an investment of around €30B (approx. AUD $46B). The Commission will seek greater impact of its research funding by focusing on fewer, but critical topics such as migration, security, climate, clean energy and digital economy. Horizon 2020 will also be more geared towards boosting breakthrough, market-creating innovation. International flagship initiatives will be launched, and the push for open access and open data continues.
Supporting breakthrough, market-creating innovation
The Commission is launching the first phase of the European Innovation Council. Between 2018 and 2020, the Commission will mobilise €2.7B (approx. AUD $4.2B) from Horizon 2020 to support high-risk, high-gain innovation to create the markets of the future. Moreover, Horizon 2020 will make better use of its “crack the challenge” prizes to deliver breakthrough technology solutions to pressing problems.
Focusing on political priorities
The 2018-2020 Work Programme will focus efforts on fewer topics with bigger budgets, directly supporting the Commission’s political priorities:
- A low-carbon, climate resilient future: €3.3B (approx. AUD $5B)
- Circular Economy: €1B (approx. AUD $1.5B)
- Digitising and transforming European industry and services: €1.7B (approx. AUD $2.6B)
- Security Union: €1B (approx. AUD $1.5B)
- Migration: €200M (approx. AUD $308M)
Boosting ‘blue sky’ research
At the same time, Horizon 2020 will continue to fund ‘curiosity-driven science’ (often referred to as ‘blue sky science’ or ‘frontier research’). The annual Work Programme of the European Research Council for 2018, will enable support for excellent researchers with nearly €1.86B (approx. AUD $2.86B). Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, which fund fellowships for researchers at all stages of their careers, receive a boost with €2.9B (approx. AUD $4.5B) in total over three years.
Enhancing international cooperation
The new Work Programme also strengthens international cooperation in research and innovation. It will invest over €1B (approx. AUD $1.5B) in 30 flagship initiatives in areas of mutual benefit. Examples include working with Canada on personalised medicine, with the US, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia on road transport automation, with India on water challenges and with African countries on food security and renewable energies.
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