Through the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7), the European Commission seeks to convert scientific breakthroughs into technologies and products that can transform sectors like energy or transport (often in partnership with major private actors from each field) but also to address the main challenges that affect our daily life, from our health to our environment.
Implementation of FP7
DG Research and Innovation (together with the other Commission services involved) draws up and issues annual work programmes for FP7 and subsequently publishes calls for proposals. In addition to the ongoing projects, in 2011 the Commission published 52 calls and managed the evaluation of around 5,300 proposals by more than 2,800 independent experts. A total of 720 projects, involving more than 9,200 participants, were identified for support through more than €2.7 billion.
Preparations were made for the FP's Work Programme 2012 which allocates nearly €7 billion to European research and innovation, the largest ever sum in any year of operation of FP7. The calls for proposals are tailored to the Innovation Union action plan, to focus more than ever on SME participation and to tackle the toughest societal challenges of our time with a view to a smooth transition to Horizon 2020.
The Commission also published its response to the interim evaluations of the FP and the Risk-Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) held in 2010. The response included the commitment to further simplification in FP7 and measures to increase the participation of SMEs and female scientists.
Adoption of Horizon 2020
The Commission adopted the proposal for the new Framework Programme Horizon 2020 on 30 November 2011. Running from 2014 to 2020, the main aim of the new programme will be to stimulate growth and jobs by optimising the process of investing in research and innovation at EU level. It will also seek to make these activities more efficient and more effective at delivering the impacts needed to stimulate and sustain growth.
Further progress was also made with regards to the Innovation Union flagship initiative. Thirty of the 34 Innovation Union commitments originally envisaged were already being addressed by activities launched before the end of 2011.
Completion of the European Research Area
As part of the completion of the European Research Area (ERA), DG RTD significantly boosted partnering initiatives and optimisation of the use and development of European research infrastructures. New Public-Public Partnerships (P2Ps) were set up: 5 Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs) and 12 European Research Area Networks (ERA-NETs).
The first European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) was also set up. This brings the total number of P2Ps and ERICs to 127 (4 Article 185 initiatives, 9 JPIs, 113 different ERA-NETs and 1 ERIC) by the end of the year. The number of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) now stands at thirteen: 3 Joint Technology Initiatives (JTI), 3 under the European Economic Recovery Plan (EERP), 7 under the SET-Plan.
Annual Growth Survey
DG RTD provided input on research and innovation aspects to general Commission reports relating to the first European semester of economic policy coordination. The reports included the Annual Growth Survey at the beginning and an assessment report at the end of the semester. This assessment report, issued in June, eventually led to the adoption of country-specific recommendations by the Council of the EU.