The budget of the new Horizon Europe research and innovation programme fell victim to the EU leaders’ historic summit negotiations this month as they debated the EU’s long-term budget and a post-pandemic economic recovery plan over a lengthy five days from 17 to 21 July. The final negotiated figure of €80.9 billion for the future Horizon Europe programme is significantly lower than a proposal of €94.4 billion put forward by the European Commission in May. It consists of €75.9 billion from the core budget and €5 billion from the new pandemic recovery fund.

The budget for the EU’s academic exchange programme Erasmus+ will be allocated €21.2 billion, about €5 billion less than initially planned. InvestEU, a scheme to boost private and public investment, could see its budget cut to €6.9 billion. In the European Commission’s budget plan, the programme had been allocated €30.3 billion, of which €3.11 billion was ring fenced for research and innovation projects.

The EU4Health programme was also cut down to €1.67 billion, from €9.4 billion proposed in May. The Commission had proposed the programme to help cope with the health consequences of COVID-19 on an EU-wide basis, but paradoxicallyat a time when greater solidarity on public health issues had demonstrated its benefits, the member states preferred to defend their own national health programmes at the expense of a pan-European response.

In the first plenary meeting of the European Parliament, in the same week that the EU heads of state agreed to cut the budget for Horizon Europe, a good number of MEPs across all parties came out to defend the future research programme and vowed to find more money to reverse the budget cuts. In theory, the parliament has strong leverage power as they must approve the EU’s long-term budget. However, in practice, there is probably little room for manoeuvre.

What next for Horizon Europe?

With only five months left, the commission, the council and the parliament have to complete negotiations on how the €80.9 billion budget will be distributed across different parts of the programme, how it may be used with other EU funding sources, and which countries outside the EU will be allowed to participate. Although the budget currently on the table is far from satisfactory, it does provides a solid basis for working out the final details of Horizon Europe and making sure the programme starts on time in January 2021.

Germany will be in charge of steering negotiations on the final details of Horizon Europe and its budget, which will take place at a meeting of EU research ministers in September.



Horizon Europe in the first plenary meeting after EU heads of state agreed to cut the budget for the research programme to €80.9 billion, vowing to work together on finding more money for future-oriented R&D. will certainly be contested by the European Parliament when it it the turn of the MEPs to vote on the Union’s multi-annual budget.

The Horizon budget was just one piece of a historically large pie that it took EU leaders a record five days to negotiate. The big picture: a total EU budget from 2021-27 of €1.82 trillion, including €750 billion in a special pandemic recovery fund. After the pandemic funding, the biggest pieces of the budget will be agriculture and cohesion, or development, funding. Paradoxically in the midst of a pandemic, as part of the wrangling leaders also agreed nearly to zero-out a special new EU health programme – but that idea ran afoul of member states’ longstanding desire to keep the EU institutions from meddling too much in their national health programmes.

Before the budget summit started on Friday, Horizon Europe was slated to get a €13.5 billion boost from this one-time pandemic fund, but the final budget is bringing that figure down to only €5 billion. According to the final EU Council document, the core budget of Horizon Europe will remain at the pre-summit level of €75.9 billion (in 2018 prices) – but even that represented a cut from the European Commission’s May plan of €80.9 billion.

Despite the drama over the weekend – including the first in-person EU summit since the pandemic began – the budget story is not quite finished. Next, the European Parliament will have a say; and it is usually far more supportive of research funding than the national finance ministers calling the shots behind-the-scenes this weekend. That means the fight for more research money will now move into the Parliamentary committees, setting the scene for an epic show-down between the three biggest EU institutions: Parliament, Commission and Council.


The new EU budget gives more ground to Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden, who are pushing for fewer grants and more loans in the new pandemic recovery fund. Since Friday, EU leaders argued over the size of the fund, as well as over the rules to disburse the money across member states. Research funding, mostly in the Horizon Europe programme, is just one piece of that overall budget dispute – but became an increasingly visible one as the hours dragged on.

As EU budget negotiations entered a fourth day in Brussels advocates mounted an online campaign to defend the research and innovation programme.

University and business advocates took to Twitter over the weekend to call for more research funding as part of Europe’s pandemic response. EU leaders need to urgently “wake up” and save the bloc’s research budget from a “dismantling” at today’s crunch EU leaders’ summit, says Marta Agostinho, coordinator of EU-Life, an alliance of 14 life science research institutes. “In a time when politicians and citizens look to science to find the miraculous solution to the COVID-19 crisis, the top leaders decide to cut the research budget – how insane is this?” she said.

In real terms, the final Horizon Europe budget is very close to funding levels of its predecessor if the UK’s contribution to the Horizon 2020 budget is also taken into account. According to figures that exclude the UK, presented by the commission, the EU allocated €67.06 billion to Horizon 2020 (in 2018 prices). The total budget of the programme, if Britain’s contribution from 2014 is included, is €76.26 billion.

In the end, the core programme of Horizon Europe will be allocated €75.9 billion and a €5 billion boost from the pandemic recovery fund.

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On 30 June the European Innovation Council (EIC) Advisory Board, an independent group of 22 leading entrepreneurs, researchers, investors and innovation experts,  published their report “A Vision and Roadmap for Impact” which paves the way for the fully-fledged EIC in Horizon Europe (2021 – 2027).

The report, which includes the vision statement of the board published in April this year, states that: ‘Without doubt, the EIC will play a leading role in establishing Europe as the place where the industries of the future will be established and flourish, creating wealth through socially responsible enterprise, and generating opportunities for our talented and enthusiastic youth to stay and build their futures in Europe’.

The report recommends key performance indicators of societal impact, economic impact and diversity. While commending the new approaches taken in the current EIC pilot, the Board recommend further improving implementation by drawing lessons from venture capital by introducing shorter, simpler applications, with rapid feedback and agile decision-making.

According to the report, to further connect deep-tech research with market opportunities, the EIC should ‘build ‘portfolios of projects clustering around similar themes that can be curated and actively managed by EIC Programme Managers’. The Board also highlights the importance of the pipeline of EIC supported technologies and startups for Europe’s corporates and investors.

The full report can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/research/eic/pdf/ec_rtd_eic-vision-roadmap-impact.pdf

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Fighting climate change and making Europe climate-neutral by 2050 is one of the main priorities of the European Commission. In support of this priority, the Commission is reinforcing Green Deal-related research and innovation with a dedicated call for proposals under the current research and innovation programme – Horizon 2020.  Additional research and innovation initiatives will be funded under the next EU research and innovation programme – Horizon Europe.
The Green Deal call, which is due to be launched in September, aims to invest €1 billion in research and innovation projects covering eight thematic areas reflecting the key work streams and three horizontal areas on strengthening knowledge; empowering citizens; and international cooperation.

The Green Deal call will mobilise research and innovation to foster a just and sustainable societal transition aiming at ‘leaving nobody behind’. Projects are expected to deliver tangible and visible results relatively quickly and show how research and innovation can provide concrete solutions for the Green Deal main priorities.

In addition to technological development and demonstration, the call encourages experimentation and social innovation for new ways to engage civil society and empower citizens. In relation to the current pandemic, the call will contribute to the green and digital recovery and to increasing societal resilience for example in agriculture, biodiversity acceleration of renewables, clean transport and modernisation towards a clean and circular industry.

The call contains 11 areas:

Call area 1: Increasing climate ambition: cross-sectoral challenges

Call area 2: Clean, affordable and secure energy

Call area 3: Industry for a clean and circular economy

Call area 4: Energy and resource-efficient buildings

Call area 5: Sustainable and smart mobility

Call area 6: Farm to Fork

Call area 7: Restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services

Call area 8: Zero-pollution, toxic-free environment

Call area 9: Strengthening our knowledge in support of the European Green Deal

Call area 10: Empowering citizens for transition towards a climate neutral, sustainable Europe

Call area 11: Accelerating the clean energy transition and access in partnership with Africa

Although the individual topics per area are still provisional, it is expected that the final version will be published by mid-September with a deadline to submit proposals by the end of January 2021.

More information and updates on the Green Deal and its different call areas can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/strategy/european-green-deal/call_en

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Alhough there are more women than men in Europe, only 16% of European start-ups are founded or co-founded by women, and a mere 6% have all-female founding teams. First launched in 2011, the EU Prize for Women Innovators was created to raise awareness of the need for more female entrepreneurs and create role models for women and girls. The prize is awarded every year to four talented women entrepreneurs from across the EU and Associated Countries, who have founded a successful company and brought innovation to market. Three winners each receive €100 000, with another €50 000 awarded to a Rising Innovator, aged 35 or younger.

Twenty-one of the most talented and inspiring women entrepreneurs in Europe and the Associated Countries have been shortlisted for the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2020. The prize celebrates the outstanding achievements of female entrepreneurs running innovative companies and is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation. This year’s finalists are pioneering game-changing innovations across a wide range of industries and help combat global challenges. Their innovations range from the optimisation of cancer treatments to generating clean electricity from ocean and sea waves.

A list of the nominees and information on their companies can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/info/news/eu-prize-women-innovators-2020-21-entrepreneurs-are-through-final-2020-jul-10_en

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Over €307 million have been awarded by the European Innovation Council in its latest funding round to 64 startups and SMEs which are considered to be contributing to the European Green Deal Strategy and the Recovery Plan for Europe. Winning proposals range from innovative solutions for the automotive, aerospace and maritime sectors to advanced materials or Internet of Things technologies.

Over one third of the selected companies are led by women CEOs, which is a big increase (tripling) of the number in previous EIC funding rounds. This increase reflects a pilot measure introduced for the first time in EIC funding which guaranteed at least a quarter of companies invited to the final interviews would have female CEOs. The 64 startups and SMEs selected are based in wide range of countries, including 17 EU member states – seven of which are countries catching up in their R&I performance – making this the most geographically diverse EIC call so far.

The results demonstrate the high demand for EIC ‘blended finance’, which combines grant and equity (38 companies, representing €182.6 million in equity investments). Equity investments are made through the recently established EIC Fundwhich manages equity stakes on behalf of the European Commission. All selected companies also benefit from exclusive business acceleration services and opportunities to support rapid growth and scale.

In addition, the EIC awarded 562 “Green Deal” Seals of Excellence to startups and SMEs to help these companies access funding from other sources.

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In the latest calls for “traditional” projects in LIFE’s environment sub-programme, which closed between 14 and 16 July 2020, some 1 500 project proposals covering all EU countries are requesting around €2.8 billion in co-financing. This is an increase of €600 million from the last round, thereby reflecting the high level of interest in the LIFE programme.

The proposed projects have a total cost of over €5.1 billion, which is broken down as follows:

  • environment and resource efficiency: €2.8 billion;
  • nature and biodiversity: €1.8 billion;
  • environmental governance and information: €513 million.

The European Commission will now evaluate the concept notes and inform applicants of the results in November 2020. Those whose concept notes have been pre-selected will then be able to work on their full project proposals. The deadline for applicants to submit their full proposals is February 2021.

Calls for climate action projects still open

Applicants to LIFE’s climate action sub-programme must submit a full proposal for “traditional” projects by 6 October 2020. There is no pre-selection through concept notes.

See all open LIFE calls


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A new business insight provided by Roger La Salle, innovation thought leader and pioneer of “Matrix Thinking”™

The all-important metrics!
We have always subscribed to the concept that “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it”. This of course speaks to KPI’s and ways to set these, with the most simple overall business metric being profit divided by headcount.

With this in mind we should explore the measurement of innovation, a topic about which much work has been done and where there is a vast divergence of opinion, some work even the basis for PhD research.  The fact is that any business, large or small, should be measuring the return on all business and staff investments and that includes innovation. But we must keep it simple otherwise the metrics can become bogged down in a mire of numbers that usually do little more than confuse. We have observed this in the past with 360 degree staff surveys that in some cases spawn entire departments in large companies.

So, what is Innovation?
The first question to be asked when looking at any measurement is, “What are we trying to achieve?” With innovation the obvious answer of course is company survival and growth but more critically, improved profits.

This of course leads us to question the very meaning of the word innovation? If we adopt the definition of innovation as “Change that Adds Value” things become a little easier. The simple idea underpinning this definition is that the lowest risk way of building a business is not to create something new “out of thin air”, but instead to build on existing well adopted creations. Indeed there are few absolutely new creations (perhaps the light bulb, the laser and the transistor may be some) but by and large most products are created by a process of evolution, or indeed, Innovation.

What’s most important is to keep the process of measurement simple.

Creating innovations – and a case study
We are working on an assumption that some formal time that can be measured is devoted to innovation. Indeed, our suggested approach is to form competing “Innovation Circles” that meet for perhaps an hour per week to use the tools of Innovation and Opportunity capture to explore ideas.

This approach has been proven to work time and again.

A recent case study on a company in Victoria delivered $0.5M in pure profit on the back of less than 60 hours of work. Yet another competing team innovated a product they make and ship worldwide that delivered over $3M in machine downtime savings for their customers, of course now locking them into that customer relationship for the foreseeable future. Again this was achieved on the back of a similar 60 hours of investment effort.

What are we Innovating – Product or Process?

  • Measuring Process innovation is simple:

Process innovation is aimed not so much at delivering revenue growth, but in fact profit growth on the back of improved processes for the same revenue. Done properly, process innovation carries no risk at all and is guaranteed to improve profits. It’s a pity more companies paid so little attention to this simple pursuit.

The simplest metric is the cost of hours devoted plus any equipment investment required added to any manufacturing downtime during implementation. With Process Innovation the cost benefit or ROI can usually be calculated well in advance of any significant investment.

  •  Product Innovation

Of course product innovation has the risk that the new initiative will not win the expected market. This risk is largely mitigated by the knowledge that you are simply making better a product that is already well established in the market place. Possibly the most graphic example of this can be seen with the Dyson air hand dyers. These have taken the business of companies that persisted with virtually no innovation with the tediously ineffective nozzle types that have now been rendered obsolete.

In this case, a simple measure again may be the money spent in time with innovation teams plus the spend on tooling and manufacturing costs, compared with profits delivered on sales over a specified period.

Now whilst this may be seen as all too simple, the clear fact is that time and cost devoted to product innovation is about delivering profits and both can be easily measured.

Of course, well-staffed innovation departments will defend their turf with arguments of the complexity of innovation, the need for Culture creation, market and customer perception (indeed this is the only reason many large companies have a department labelled as “Innovation”) and the message that research takes time and has uncertain outcomes. In fact, if we differentiate innovation from research, which by its very nature has uncertain outcomes, the true measurement of innovation can be greatly demystified.

What’s the message?

  1. If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it so don’t invest in hope, it’s outcomes that matter.
  2. Ensure metrics are simple and avoid being buried in expansive spreadsheets that too often hide the real message.
  3. Make sure your innovation people are truly delivering innovation and have not been hijacked for special projects and are no longer innovating. This is what commonly happens, especially in large companies.
  4. Check your innovation spend against profits delivered; this is the ultimate test.



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The EIC Business Acceleration Services have published the Highlights from its Corporate Days organised  in 2018-2019. The European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot stimulates strong collaboration between the innovative companies it funds and large corporates, investors, technology giants and industrial leaders to encourage new partnerships and help small companies scale-up their business.

The EIC Business Acceleration Services have organised dozens of events and opportunities since 2017 to allow EIC-funded companies to boost their network and meet potentially important investors and business partners. During the past two years, over 600 companies funded by the EIC and selected for the events by the Corporates themselves were invited to network and pitch their promising innovations and business proposals to almost 1 500 top managers of 27 leading European corporates.
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Coldplay, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson, Shakira and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson teamed up with the European Commission and the advocacy group Global Citizen for a fundraising drive that raised €6.5 billion for research to find a vaccine for the coronavirus. The virtual concert was streamed live across the world on Saturday 27 June.

The event began with a pledge from the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, of €4.9 billion from the European Investment Bank, in partnership with the European Commission. She thanked those other private and public donors who brought the total to €6.5 billion euros. “We will only end this pandemic when it has been ended everywhere,” she said at the start of the event. “And that means every person in the world having access to tests, treatments and vaccines no matter where they live and where they are from or what they look like,” she added.

Saturday’s concert kicked off at 8pm CET and was live-streamed across the world and co-hosted by von der Leyen and American actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The concert featured, amongst other, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Justin Bieber and Quavo, J Balvin, Chloe x Halle, Yemi Alade, and Christine and the Queens.

Miley Cyrus performed a rendition of Beatles’ classic “Help!” in an empty stadium, while Jennifer Hudson sang on a boat on a river near Chicago. A host of international advocates, experts, artists and activists joined the festivities including Angelique Kidjo, Melinda Gates, Dr. Vin Gupta, Ken Jeong, Charlize Theron, Hugh Jackman as well as retired football star David Beckham.

“As we fight this virus, we also need to take care of the most vulnerable people and address the challenges they’re facing right now,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during the event. Speakers also included the leaders of New Zealand, El Salvador, Sweden, South Africa and Barbados.

The initiative marked the conclusion of the Global Goal: Unite For Our Future campaign launched by the EU and activist group Global Citizen, which already brought together some of the world’s most famous celebrities on 19 April for the global live-streamed concert One World: Together At Home.

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The 2020 edition of the European Innovation Scoreboard was published on 23 June, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’s national holiday, giving the small state of just over 600,000 inhabitants another good cause to celebrate: for the first time the country was promoted from the group of strong innovators to become one of the innovation leaders. Significantly, this was the first year that the UK no longer figured in the ratings.

The results, which cover data from 2019, show that innovation performance continues to improve across the EU, surpassing for the second year the United States. It also confirms the growing trend that performance among EU Member States has been converging in recent years. On the other hand, additional effort needs to be made to catch up with global innovation leaders like South Korea, Australia and Japan.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sweden continues to be the EU Innovation Leader, followed by Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. This year Luxembourg (previously a Strong Innovator) joins the group of Innovation Leaders, while Portugal (previously a Moderate Innovator) joins the group of Strong Innovators.

European Innovation Scoreboard country ranking. Coloured columns show innovation performance in 2019, horizontal hyphens show performance in 2018, and grey columns show performance in 2012, all relative to the EU average in 2012.

On average, the innovation performance of the EU has increased by 8.9% since 2012. Since that year, innovation performance has increased in 24 EU countries, with the most significant increases registered in Lithuania, Malta, Latvia, Portugal and Greece.

On a global level, although the EU continues to outperform the United States, China, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and India, its performance gap with South Korea, Australia and Japan continues to increase. China has had the largest innovation performance growth rate amongst the EU’s main competitors since 2012, growing at more than five times that of the EU.

In selected areas of innovation, the EU leaders are: Sweden (human resources); Luxembourg (attractive research systems; intellectual assets); Denmark (innovation-friendly environment; finance and support); Germany (firm investment); Portugal (innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises); Austria (linkages and collaboration); Ireland (employment impacts and sales impacts).

The main 2020 Innovation Scoreboard report and individual country profiles can be downloaded from https://ec.europa.eu/growth/industry/policy/innovation/scoreboards_en




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