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EC to invest €6.4 billion in research and innovation

The European Commission has announced Europe's biggest ever investment in research and innovation. The funds are key elements within the EU's Europe 2020 strategy.

The total sum is expected to reach a nearly €6.4 billion package which will be shared in a wide range of scientific disciplines, public policy, and commercial sectors. The main goal of the funding is to solve societal challenges such as climate change, energy and food security, health and an aging population.

The package is expected to create 165,000 jobs and many long-term investments. “Investment in research and innovation is the only smart and lasting way out of crisis and towards sustainable and socially equitable growth,” said Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. “This European package will contribute to new and better products and services, a more competitive and greener Europe, and a better society with a higher quality of life,” she added.

The funding will be shared through the Seventh Framework Program in wide range of sectors. Health gets €600 million and € 1.2billion is earmarked for information and communications technology (ICT) research. €600 million of the ICT funding will be for next generation network and service infrastructure, robotic system and electronic and photonics components and 400€ million will support research into how ICT's can address challenges such as lower carbon economy, an ageing society and adaptable and sustainable factories.

€1.3 billion are reserved for the best creative scientists selected by the European research council. Mobility grants for 7,000 highly qualified researchers will be provided through Marie Curie Actions, worth €772 million.

Within this package, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are in the top priority of the commission: according to the press release, SMEs represent 99% of all European businesses and they are considered to be the backbone of the European innovation system. SMEs will receive nearly €800 million that will be shared both for health research and nanotechnologies.

The budget for the Seventh Framework Program is the largest single research program in the world with a budget of €50.5 billion. (Tom Fried)