The largest European Union research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 was presented to participants of the ongoing first Innovation Forum Innovation Drift, taking place in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius; the budget of the programme for 2014-2020 period is expected to reach approximately EUR 80 billion. During the forum, which brought together over 600 business and science representatives, special attention was paid to Horizon 2020 funding opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses.
The Director-General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission, Robert Jan-Smits, announced the start of the programme. 'This is the largest research and innovation programme, which will be open to the world, therefore, Lithuania as well. But Horizon 2020 will not alone deliver the smart growth that Europe needs. Each and every Member State has a key role to play in fostering smart growth, therefore it is necessary for the European policy-makers, academic and busines communities to work together. Lithuania has made great progress in innovations, improved its position in the EU Innovation Union Scoreboard, can be proud of strong universities and flexible business environment, however you have to modernise the research system, more actively support business investment in research and innovation’, he said.
‘The Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council invested much effort and contributed substantially to the major European competitiveness initiatives and legislative proposals. Especially important is the consensus on the competitive and innovation–based EU industrial policy and Horizon 2020 – one of the major sources for research and innovation development. Via the programme, we will seek to increase competitiveness of companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, highlighting innovation as the driving force for the economic growth and employability at European level’ , said Minister of Economy Evaldas Gustas.
’Lithuania can be proud that during our Presidency of the EU Council we could finalize the major activity, and on timely basis launch the Horizon 2020 programme , which will open up new possibilities for researchers, small and medium-sized enterprises all over Europe. Not only it will strengthen the science and technology base, but will also build firm foundation for the future of Europe - creation of jobs and economic growth,’ said Minister of Education and Science Dainius Pavalkis.
Horizon 2020 opportunities and benefits were presented by the European Commission representatives Agata Janaszczyk by Christian Weinberger. The objective of the programme is to ensure global competitiveness, economic growth and job creation in Europe through the promotion of innovation and research.
Horizon 2020 will consist of three main parts, aiming at strengthening EU position in science and industry leadership and seeking to address major social challenges. The Horizon 2020 programme will finance all the parts of the innovation chain, from a concept to a market, helping to bridge the gap between research and the market, i.e. solve the created innovative product’s way to a market problem.
The first area, the European Research Council-funded idea program, Marie-Sklodowska-Curie action, supporting mobility and development of researchers, research infrastructure, future and emerging technologies will be allocated approximately EUR 25 billion from 2014 to 2020. This area of the Horizon 2020 programme will provide even greater opportunities for top-level research across Europe, support the best scientific ideas and will help develop young European talents as well as provide access for researchers to the most progressive infrastructure and increase the attractiveness of the continent to the best scientists of the world.
Within the area of industry leadership, approximately EUR 18 billion will be allocated to ‘high-impact’ technologies (ICT, nanotechnology, biotechnology, future production and space technology), research and development of new products promoting financial instruments as well as innovation building capacity for small and medium-sized companies.
The third area is dedicated to the largest social challenges (climate change, sustainable transport, renewable energy resources, food security and social problems of the society and its security) and will be allocated over EUR 31 billion.
The funding rules for the new programme will be significantly simplified compared to the 2007-2013 period fund for research and development through the 7th Framework Programme. In the Vilnius Innovation Forum, presentation of the Horizon 2020 programme focused on the possibilities for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). In case of successful stimulation of innovation and development in SMBs, which make up more than 90 percent of European companies and provide almost 2/3 of jobs, increase in competitiveness and jobs ans well as economic growth can be expected at European level.
Horizon 2020 instruments for small and medium-sized enterprises will be used to ensure that the concepts ‘innovation’ and ‘small enterprise’ became inseparable. The target plan aims at fully supporting European business, which with the help of innovation would strengthen the positions in both national and foreign markets. The latter, in turn, would significantly contribute to the European economy.