EU Research Funding boosts scientific excellence and competitiveness

EU Research Funding boosts scientific excellence and competitiveness

Investment in research and innovation from the EU budget between 2007 and 2013 has greatly improved scientific excellence in Europe and strengthened its competitiveness by improving industry’s capacity to innovate

These are some of the main findings of the evaluation of EU’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7), published today by the European Commission.

The ex-post evaluation of FP7, the EU Research Funding Programme for 2007-2013, was conducted by an independent group of high-level experts which analysed the economic and societal impact of the programme. On this basis, the Commission has also drawn recommendations to be integrated into Horizon 2020, the current EU research and innovation funding programme.

Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation said: “Independent experts have confirmed that our research and innovation investments are supporting world class science and improving our citizen’s welfare. We are now using the lessons learned to further improve Horizon 2020, the new EU research and innovation funding programme, and make it simpler, more effective and more focused on finding innovative solutions to benefit our society and economy.”

The ex-post evaluation of the 7th Framework Programme shows that the €55 billion invested over 7 years into EU’s research and innovation proved highly attractive to private sector participants, including a record number of SMEs, which helped strengthen competitiveness of European industries. The programme also set up five Joint Technology Initiatives in key areas like innovative medicine and hydrogen and fuel cells.

With a record number of participants and projects funded, the programme also strongly contributed to strengthening scientific excellence. FP7 projects have so far generated over 170000 publications, with an open access rate of 54 % for all scientific peer reviewed publications created during the lifetime of FP7.

In addition, the ex-post evaluation also found that the FP7 has had a significant impact on creating growth and jobs in Europe. Experts have forecast that FP7 investment is on track to trigger economic growth of approximately EUR 20 billion per year over 25 years, or EUR 500 billion in total, through direct and indirect economic effects. It is also estimated that the programme is creating 130000 research jobs per year over a period of ten years and 160000 additional jobs per year over a period of 25 years.

In addition to its achievements, the report has also looked at the issues to be improved, in order to maximise the impact of EU investment in research and innovation in the future. While most of these areas, including improving administrative procedures and funding flexibility, better integration of different parts of the programme and synergies with other research and innovation funding schemes, have already been addressed in the set-up of Horizon 2020, further recommendations will be taken on board in subsequent reviews.

The Commission will present the results of the ex-post evaluation of FP7, alongside its response to the recommendations of the High-Level Expert Group, to the Member States at the Informal Competitiveness Council in Amsterdam on 27 January, as well as to the ITRE Committee in the European Parliament on 28 January.

The Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (FP7) ran from 2007 to 2013. It was structured around four Specific Programmes supporting transnational collaborative research, investigator-driven research, career development of individual researchers, as well as training and mobility, and enhancement of research capacities in Europe.

From the total budget of EUR 55bn: 82 % (EUR 45 billion) has been allocated in open calls in the four specific programmes (EUR 28.7 billion Cooperation, EUR 7.7 billion Ideas, EUR 4.8 billion People, EUR 3.8 billion Capacities). 18 % was allocated to Euratom, JRC direct actions, ITER, the Risk Sharing Finance Facility and administrative expenditure.

Horizon 2020, the successor research and innovation programme to FP7, runs from 2014 to 2020. Over the seven years, the programme will make available EUR 77 billion in funding for research and innovation, an almost 40 % increase on FP7 in current prices.

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