Graham Stroud, Director of the Research Executive Agency, addressed the UK launch at the EC's Office in Cardiff, where he gave more information about what opportunities the latest, and largest such package, will provide. The UK currently has an applicant success rate of 23.9% under FP7, which is higher than the EU average of 21.5%.
Grants will promote research to tackle the biggest challenges facing Europe and the world, while at the same time creating sustainable jobs and growth by giving Europe a lead in the key technology markets of the future. Universities, research organisations and industry will be among more than 16,000 funding recipients. Special attention will be given to SMEs, including a package close to £1 billion. There will also be a new EU Prize for Women Innovators whose work has been funded by FP7 or earlier programmes. The funds will be allocated through "calls for proposals" (invitations to bid for funds).
Some key elements in the new package include:
- £200 (€220) million of the £576 (€656) million available for health research and £210 (€240) million of the £1 (€1.3) billion in funding for information and communication technology (ICT) will be allocated to work aimed at tackling the challenge of providing for an ageing population.
- The European Research Council (ERC) will award close to £1.4 (€1.6) billion to the best senior and young researchers working in Europe.
- Around £790 (€900) million in support for researchers' mobility and careers will be provided through 'Marie Curie Actions' for around 10,000 highly-qualified researchers.
- Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME), recognised as vital for innovation, are given special incentives to participate. In addition to newly simplified rules, the investment package of almost £1 (€1) billion for SMEs includes pilot schemes both within the Health theme and through the European Investment Bank’s 'Risk-Sharing Finance Facility for SMEs.'
FP7 is the largest research funding programme in the world with a budget of more than £46 (€53) billion for 2007-2013. Member States have put research and innovation at the top of the European political agenda, by adopting the Europe 2020 strategy and endorsing the Innovation Union in February this year, making it the cornerstone of plans for investment in sustainable growth and jobs.