The €8.1 billion announced today is expected to leverage an additional €6 billion (£5 billion) of public and private investment in research, and estimated to increase employment by 210,000 in the short-term and generate, over a 15 year period, an additional €75 billion (£62.5 billion) in growth, according to See the DEMETER, SIMPATIC, WIOD and NEUJOB research projects.
European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Knowledge is the currency of the global economy. If Europe wants to continue to compete in the 21st century, we must support the research and innovation that will generate growth and jobs, now and in the future. The high level of competition for EU funding makes sure that taxpayers' money goes to the best projects that tackle issues that concern all of us."
The invitations to bid target both innovation and a range of societal challenges, building a bridge to Horizon 2020, the new funding programme for EU research which will replace FP7 and some other smaller programmes from 2014-2020.
Special attention is given to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in a package worth up to €1.2 billion (£1 billion). SME's are already receiving 15.6% of funding for which they are eligible to bid, outstripping the Commission's target of 15 %
Around €2.7 billion (£2.25 billion) will help cement Europe's place as a world class destination for researchers, mainly through individual grants from the European Research Council (€1.75 billion, £1.46 billion), and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (€963 million, £800 million) for research training and mobility.
Innovative thematic research priorities in this FP7 call include: around €155 million (£129 million) for "Oceans of the future", to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors; around €365 million (£304 million) for technologies that will transform urban areas into sustainable "Smart Cities and Communities"; some €147 million (£123 million) to combat the rise of drug-resistant bacteria; and nearly €100 million (£80 million) dedicated to innovative solutions for managing fresh water resources.
The invitations to bid also support digital research funding targets, with almost €1.5 billion (£1.25 billion) going to the thematic area of information and communication technologies.
The FP7 framework programme, launched in 2007, has a total budget of €55 billion (£46 billion) for research and innovation. It has so far supported some 19,000 projects involving over 79,000 participants (universities, research organisations and businesses), 10 000 of them from the UK.
By 2013 it is estimated that FP7 will also have directly supported some 55,000 individual researchers' careers.
The EU's total research budget of around €10 billion (£ 8 billion) includes funds that are not included in the calls announced today. These include funding under the Euratom treaty covering nuclear energy research (€993 million, £827.5 million), or to help support "joint technology initiatives" with industry (€751 million, £626 million)) or "joint programmes" set up between Member States.
The total budget also includes funding for the Commission's Joint Research Centre and the Commission's contribution to the Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF), managed by the European Investment Bank Group.