In mid-October EU government officials sat round the table to discusse the proposal of five research missions and 10 industry partnerships which have been tabled by the European Commission to receive funding under Horizon Europe, the EU’s 2021-2027 research programme. Together these mechanisms would account for 40-50% of the €94.1 billion framework programme.
The five missions suggested are in the fields of digitisation, health, “clean Europe”, and food and agriculture. According to a Commission briefing paper, the specific targets in each of these fields are: to build the first universal quantum computer in Europe; to cure paediatric cancer; to eliminate plastic waste in rivers and seas; to create the first carbon-neutral cities with clean air, and to restore soil health. The five suggestions come from an original long list of 12 themes for missions that Commission staff had prepared, all of which with an important societal impact.
The member states must also decide whether to give their support to 10 proposals presented by the Commission for future industry partnerships, many of which are conceived as successors to existing EU-funded groups. These would cover fields such as:
- Health innovation, for the rapid development, deployment and safe use of medical treatments, devices and technologies enhanced by digital technologies.
- Global health, including links to national health research systems and philanthropic funding.
- Key digital technologies, including novel technologies such as AI and linking to downstream sectors.
- Metrology, to develop new tools for the speed, accuracy and cost of measurement.
- Air traffic management, including new tools and technologies for flexible use of airspace (including for novel avionics, drones).
- Aviation, to reduce CO2 emissions and noise, including through electric or other alternative propulsion systems.
- Rail, including transformative change in rail through automation and digitisation.
- Bio-based solutions, including CO2 uptake technologies for food and energy, biomass, and maritime resources.
- Fuel cells and hydrogen energy storage technologies.
- Connected, autonomous mobility.
This selection emerged from “more than 50 ideas” collected by Commission officials. Each mission is earmarked around €1-2 billion in total of the Horizon Europe budget, while partnerships would account for 30-40%, according to the Commission.