Dear Minister Messa, Dear Cristina,

Dear Italian researchers and innovators,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

It is a pleasure to address you at the launch event for Horizon Europe programme in Italy. I would like to warmly thank Minister Messa for the invitation.

I feel I am in a country that breaths science. A country that contributed to modern thinking, with people like Galileo improving instruments and technologies to be able to look far beyond the Horizon and literally discover new moons. 

Today, we celebrate Horizon Europe, the most ambitious transnational research and innovation programme ever created, with 95,5 billion euros. Compared to Horizon 2020, it represents an increase of 30%.

Today, we also celebrate cooperation. The programme was developed in great collaboration with Member States and our research and innovation community, so that it best responds to their needs as well as our ambitions of transforming Europe into a greener, more resilient and digital society. 

In the current crisis, Horizon Europe will be our most powerful tool to engage scientific community but also industry, including SMEs, and rebuild the collaboration networks.

Horizon Europe is more balanced, simplified, inclusive and multidisciplinary than its predecessor. The three-pillar structure will offer opportunities for blue-sky and applied research as well as innovation.

In the first pillar, Horizon Europe will promote frontier research via the European Research Council and the mobility of talents via the Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions.

The Italian participation in this context has been very significant. 454 Italian researchers took part in the European Research Council. And 5500 researchers participated in the Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions, making Italy the 5th most represented country.

The second pillar is focusing on research and technology development, essential to encourage the transformative changes that our economy will require to adapt to our climate and digital ambitions. With its six thematic clusters and priorities, this pillar with support our strategic partnerships and new mission.

The proposed five missions will bring together a portfolio of projects towards a clear common European goal. Their objectives are concrete and close to the citizens. For instance, they will aim at saving 3 million lives from cancer diseases or transforming 100 cities into climate neutral ones, in both cases by 2030. The missions will also be instrumental to pull resources from Member States and regions to leverage our efforts.

We have significantly simplified the partnership landscape to reduce their number, from more than 120 to 49, to ensure a more strategic approach and improve their transparency and inclusiveness. We need everyone on board if we are to succeed. I am pleased that Italy has already committed to these partnerships.

We need to prioritize our investments to bring our economies on track. By pooling and mobilising resources towards fewer strategic objectives, partnerships will align public and private R&I strategies of the different countries. This is essential for our recovery and to tackle great challenges such as making our industries greener and improving healthcare. 

But aligning R&I agendas and preserving our excellent base is not enough. We need to focus more on making Europe an innovation leader. This is why we have put together a third pillar dedicated to innovation. It is our answer to the following challenge: the uptake on the market of Europe’s excellent science should be improved.

In this idea, the European Innovation Council will be the European unicorn factory. It will bring support to SMEs and start-ups in a new way. For the first time, the Union will finance companies in a Venture-Capital style of funding.

With the help of the European Innovation Council fund and its budget of 10 billion euro, the EIC will support all start-ups and SMEs with a strong focus on breakthrough-innovation projects, from the early research phase until the deployment on the market.

Working hand in hand with the European Innovation Council, is the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. This will keep strengthening Europe’s ability to innovate by building networks of innovators around great subjects such as Urban Mobility or Climate. This will be done via our KICs, Knowledge and Innovation Communities. As you know, we plan to launch a new Knowledge and Innovation Community on Culture and Creative Industries, which is an important topic for Italy.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology and the European Innovation Council have already started to work together. Synergies between the two will help us to deliver faster results to the market and ensure the needed flexibility and fast funding for our promising start-ups.

Ensuring synergies is one of my main priorities. And I expect Horizon Europe to make a substantial progress when it comes to synergies. After years of talking about their importance, now we have put in practice new measures to make this a reality.

We have now a legal base that better support the use of different synergy schemes. Regions can transfer on a voluntary basis financing capacities from the Cohesion Funds into Horizon, these funds would then be used for research and innovation projects in the same region.

The role of the Recovery and Resilience Plan will be crucial. I am very pleased to see that the Italian Plan already includes major research and innovation investments to enhance human capital, support science and companies’ innovation capacity. This will reinforce the work done under Horizon Europe.

As we have seen through the Covid-19 pandemic, R&I will be key for the recovery and to face the challenges ahead, especially if Europe is to become a climate-neutral continent by 2050.

You will find in Horizon Europe funding opportunities from basic research in all fields of science to the development of technologies, to support to start-ups and innovation ecosystems. I call upon all of you to engage and make the best out of the Programme. I am sure that Italian researchers and innovators will participate with great success.

One of the Galilean Moons around Jupiter is called Europa.

Let me conclude by inviting you to participate in the R&I Days on 23 and 24 June.

Let us celebrate together a Europe of scientific collaboration that moves forward the frontiers of knowledge leaving no one behind.

As Galileo famously said “Eppur si muove!”

Thank you for your attention.