Commission review states that partnerships in research and innovation boost the economy

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Commission review states that partnerships in research and innovation boost the economy

Brussels, 9 October 2017

Research partnerships between the EU, the private sector and the Member States are on track to deliver on their objectives, to improve people's lives and to increase Europe's international competitiveness. This was confirmed by the results of interim evaluations of public-private and public-public partnerships supported by Horizon 2020, the EU's €77 billion research and innovation framework programme, which the European Commission published today. Working in a broad range of sectors, these partnerships for example develop treatments for poverty-related diseases, design green transport technologies and support high-tech small and middle sized enterprises.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "The evaluations show that our partnerships with industry and Member States already strengthen our economy and improve our quality of life. They enable us to tackle issues that no single company or country can deal with alone. We will use the evaluation results to further improve these initiatives and to increase their impact."

The evaluation of the seven public-private partnerships PDF icon called Joint Undertakings (JUs) under Horizon 2020 and their six predecessors under the previous (seventh) framework programme confirms that the partnerships contribute directly to EU competitiveness and policy goals. The key strength of the JUs is their ability to engage major industry partners across borders and to overcome fragmentation in their sectors. The Commission also estimates that leveraged private sector funding already equals or exceeds targets in four JUs, and is closing in on the target for the remaining three.

The evaluation, based on the work of independent experts and the results of a stakeholder consultation, also identifies some areas for further improvement. These include changes to Key Performance Indicators in order to even better measure the impact of the JUs, the need for inclusion of a wider range of stakeholders either in the governance structures or in projects, increased interaction between the Governing Boards and their advisory bodies, and an improved alignment of JU activities with research and innovation priorities at EU, national and regional level, in particular with Smart Specialization priorities.

A separate evaluation of public-public partnerships PDF icon supported by the EU via Horizon 2020 highlights that these large joint research and innovation programmes of several EU Member States, countries associated to Horizon 2020 and, in some cases, also third countries contribute to more effective and efficient coordination and cooperation in and outside Europe. For example, about 50% of all metrology-related research in Europe is integrated within the European Metrology Programme for Research and Innovation.

These initiatives support Europe in responding to its international commitments and also help strengthen its competitiveness. For example, the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership supported 102 clinical trials on new treatments against malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in 24 sub-Saharan countries, involving more than 100 000 patients. And 77% of SMEs participating in the Eurostars initiative bring new products or services on the market within less than 1.5 years after the end of the project.

The evaluation also identifies some challenges for these partnerships, and the Commission will use it to develop proposals on partnerships in the next Framework Programme.


The seven public-private partnerships represent a total investment in research and innovation of €19.5 billion over seven years, where the EU contribution of €7.3 billion is expected to unlock a €12.2 billion investment from the private sector and the Member States. These partnerships work in a number of key fields:

  • Bio-based Industries (BBI): to use renewable natural resources and innovative technologies for greener everyday products
  • Clean Sky 2 (CS2): to develop cleaner, quieter aircraft with significantly less CO2 emissions
  • Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership (ECSEL): to boost Europe's electronics manufacturing capabilities
  • Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 (FCH2): to accelerate the market introduction of clean and efficient technologies in energy and transport
  • Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 (IMI2): to develop next generation vaccines, medicines and treatments
  • SESAR 2020: to develop the new generation of European Air Traffic Management system that will enhance the performance of air transport
  • Shift2Rail (S2R): to develop better trains and railway infrastructure that will drastically reduce costs and improve capacity, reliability and punctuality

In addition, over € 5.5 billion has been jointly invested by the EU, the Member States, countries associated to Horizon 2020 and some third countries in five public-public partnerships over the last ten years, with a sixth expected to start working in 2018:

  • Active and Assisted Living Research and Development Programme (AAL2): technologies empowering the elderly and disabled to live safely in their own homes
  • Baltic Sea research and development programme (BONUS): ecosystem-based management of the Baltic sea
  • European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership 2 (EDCTP2): new treatments for poverty-related diseases
  • The European Metrology Programme for Research and Innovation (EMPIR): the best metrology solutions for tackling global challenges
  • Eurostars 2: support for high-tech SMEs
  • Partnership on Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA): new initiative on improving the water and food quality in the Mediterranean. To start working in 2018

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