EUROPEAN COMMISSION AGREES TO AVOID BUDGET CUTS TO FP9

The European Commission is currently discussing the EU’s next multi-annual budget for the period 2021-2027 against a  backdrop of Brexit and a future loss of €12 billion in the shape of the UK’s annual contribution. Nevertheless, according to the EU budget chief Günther Oettinger, there is unanimity among the EU27 to avoid making cuts to the successor to Horizon 2020 and the Erasmus student exchange programme. There is even talk of finding ways to increase the budget of the next framework programme for R&D.

It is clear that with the loss of the UK’s €12 billion per annum contribution to the EU budget, the Commission will have to compensate the shortfall with a mixture of cuts and additional contributions from EU members and from new sources. In terms of cuts, it looks likely that the Common Agricultural Policy and the EU’s Cohesion Fund, which between them eat up some 70% of the EU budget, will be streamlined.

In terms of new income, the Commission needs to find some €10 billion a year additional cash after Brexit to cover the cost of new tasks including controlling migration, defence research and new climate change programmes. In addition to possibly increasing the budget contribution of each of the remaining EU27 member states, new revenue could come from a tax on imported plastics, or by diverting the income from the EU’s emissions trading scheme from member states and channelling it directly to Brussels.

Earlier this month the Commission made a plea to the EU27 to increase their contributions from 1 per cent of total EU gross national income to a little over 1.1 per cent. Some countries, like France and Austria (2 net payers to the budget), have voiced opposition, saying that a smaller EU should be expected to do less. Other member states, such as Poland, are envisaging a higher contribution on condition that they do not lose out on the payments their countries receive from the EU budget.

In answer to the budget conundrum, Mr Oettinger did not rule out the possibility that the UK keeps up some form of contribution to the EU budget (similar to the arrangement with Norway and Switzerland) to that the country can also benefit from access to EU programmes.

The Commission is due to present its full proposal for the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework in May.

 

 

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EUROPE IS BACK: ACCELERATING BREAKTHROUGH INNOVATION

The independent High-Level Group of Innovators advising the European Commission has published its recommendations on how a European Innovation Council (EIC) should fund and nurture breakthrough innovation from start-up to scale-up.

In their report, entitled ‘Europe is back: Accelerating breakthrough innovation’, they recommend that a future EIC provides simplified and flexible financing, tailor-made for the needs of the innovator and which incentivises private investment for rapid scaling up. They also recommend boosting awareness of Europe’s innovation successes and leveraging European ecosystems, so that highly innovative companies can benefit from expertise and partnerships from across Europe.

Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas welcomed the recommendations and said they formed a significant input for the development of a fully-fledged European Innovation Council as part of the next EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The report was first presented to French President Emmanuel Macron at the World Economic Forum in Davos, who has made similar calls for a European agency for innovation.

Under the message that “it is time for Europe to act FAST”, the High Level Group of Innovators, chaired by Hermann Hauser, Co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners, puts forward a set of 14 recommendations to help Europe recover its position as innovation leader in the world. They are summarized as follows:

F unding: empower the innovator, simplify, incentivise private investment
1. Simplify current schemes into a small set of “EIC Awards” (grants and other forms of
funding) supporting the emergence and the scaling up of breakthrough market-creating
innovation
2. Enable grants, loans and equity investments to be awarded in combination
3. Create an EIC advisory board to put the focus on the innovator
4. Change evaluation, selection and management to enable risk taking and flexibility
5. Design websites, application forms, etc., with innovators’ needs uppermost
A wareness: champion innovators, communicate success
6. Set up comprehensive monitoring and information systems that combine data from EIC with other sources
7. Collect and make available intelligence on emerging technologies coming from national and EU programs
8. Communicate success stories
S cale: build the camp, leverage European ecosystems
9. Help EIC awardees access high-quality partnerships and networks across Europe
10. Continue improving access to risk finance for innovators
11. Partner and share practice with other innovation agencies and programmes
12. Help EIC awardees overcome regulatory barriers and improve the early identification of regulatory barriers for emerging technologies
T alent: connect people, create prestige for innovators
13. Introduce prestigious “EIC fellowship” to recognise leading innovators
14. Pair up EIC awardees with experienced peers

The full report published on 24 January can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/eic_hlg_bz_web.pdf

 

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JURY OF 87 INNOVATION AND INVESTMENT EXPERTS SELECTED FOR SMEI PHASE 2 EVALUATIONS

The European Commission has published a list of 85 innovation and investment experts from 26 countries who will be involved in the future evaluation of SME Instrument Phase 2 project applications.

The new jury of experts will start working from the next SME Instrument Phase 2 cut-off date on 10 January 2018. The jury has been set up as part of a revamped assessment process introduced under the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot to better identify radical, market-creating innovations by taking full account of the personal qualities and motivations of the applicants. Under the new system, therefore, companies that pass the initial selection stage for up to €2.5 million of SME Instrument Phase 2 funding, will have to pitch their innovation projects in front of a jury of experts. This will complement the existing paper-based assessment.

The jury members have been selected in an open and transparent way following a call for expressions of interest. The jury consists of around 15% business angels, 20% entrepreneurs, 20% venture capitalists, with other experts coming from larger corporates, innovation hubs and accelerators. The majority of the experts are women.

The list of experts and their affiliation can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/evaluations-eic-pilot

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SME OPEN INNOVATION SUCCESS STORIES SHARED ONLINE

The INSPIRE consortium (standing for Integrated Support for oPen Innovation pRofessionalization initiative, a Coordination and Support Action funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020) is pleased to announce the publication of its first 12 inspirational cases of Open Innovation in SMEs on the project website at http://www.inspire-smes.eu/inspirational-cases.php

These 12 cases make up the first batch of a total of 36 success stories which were identified during an in-depth study of 120 cases of Open Innovation in SMEs across Europe. Cases range from a smart phone application for measuring timber first brainstormed during a hackathon in Estonia to a floating met mast for measuring wind velocity for offshore wind turbines developed by a Greek SME in collaboration with a naval architect’s office.

We hope you enjoy reading about each unique Open Innovation journey, how the SMEs engaged with external parties to develop and implement their innovation and the ways in which they managed this collaboration to achieve success for their business.

We also invite you to join the project’s LinkedIn group “Open Innovation in SMEs” to keep you updated about our work and future outputs at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12018477

New inspirational cases, a database with 120 Open Innovation practices and a ready-to-use toolbox of training modules and tools to help manage more effectively the Open Innovation process in SMEs will be released in the coming months.

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PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON NEXT RESEARCH AND INNOVATION PROGRAMME

The European Commission has launched a series of public consultations clustered by key policy areas, in preparation for the EU’s next long-term budget post-2020 (Multiannual Financial Framework). Citizens, organisations and businesses can give their views online until 8 March 2018.

The consultation on EU funds in the area of investment, research & innovation, SMEs and single market can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/info/consultations/public-consultation-eu-funds-area-investment-research-innovation-smes-and-single-market_en

Encouraged by the over 3 500 reponses to the Interim Evaluation of Horizon 2020, the Director-General for Research and Innovation, Robert-Jan Smits, gives the European R&I community its chance to give feedback on the added value of current programmes and the pertinence of the challenges identified by the Commission for the next programming period. Thanks to the consultation, his ambition is to make “fostering research and innovation across the EU” a clear priority for the future.

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SCIENCE MISSIONS GAIN GROUND IN DEBATE AROUND FP9

The EU Commission has recruited Mariana Mazzucato, Director of University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, to help convince EU countries of the merit of a missions-based funding approach to the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP9). The idea of science missions is inspired by US president John F. Kennedy, who promised in 1961 to send a man to the moon and return him safely, a goal that was achieved eight years later.

According to Ms Mazzucato, “Missions would give us a new way to tackle challenges so that, at the end of the game, you’re able to say whether we achieved something or not.” In other words, the advantage of a mission is that it provides a verifiable result.

EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas believes missions should be eye-catching and capture the public’s imagination, while helping the EU to boost its brand and motivate researchers to create “positive narratives”.  Not all missions need to be glamourous like space travel; some could involve technology solutions that are already available and might offer an opportunity to apply them in new ways.

Another prominent public innovation figure, Luke Georghiou, Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the University of Manchester, has suggested having a mission based on prevention and early diagnosis of a certain cancer, which could involve rolling out a new promotional campaign to take tests, for example. Other examples of big research missions that the EU could take on in the 2020s were presented last year in a report by former EU Trade Commissioner and former head of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy.

These include achieving a plastic litter-free Europe by 2030; understanding the brain by 2030; producing steel with zero carbon in Europe by 2030; and ensuring the long-term survival of three out of four cancer patients by 2034.

Current thinking puts the number of FP9 science missions at around 10 with a budget in the region of €2 billion each.

 

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NEW EU BATTERY ALLIANCE TO JUMPSTART EUROPEAN MARKET

A new Battery Alliance, spearheaded by the European Commission and made up of major automotive, chemicals, raw materials, engineering and energy companies, will be formally launched at the Clean Energy Industrial Forum in Brussels in February. The Alliance intends to focus on bringing up to speed European R&D and manufacturing efforts in the race to capture a share of the lucrative electric car battery market, which has been dominated so far by Asian and US companies.

According to Francesco Gattiglio, European affairs manager at the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers (EUROBAT),  “We cannot rely on imports from outside Europe, as this would simply replace our current dependence on oil and other sources of energy with a dependence on batteries themselves.”

Of the funding earmarked for the last three years of the Horizon 2020 programme, €200 million will be allocated to battery technologies.

An in-depth article on the stakes behind the expanding battery market can be found at https://sciencebusiness.net/news/eu-battery-alliance-launches-airbus-style-consortium-make-europe-force-batteries

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