Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

Action 52: Propose measures for ‘light and fast’ access to EU research funds in ICT

Starting in 2011, the action aimed at proposing measures for ‘open, light and fast’ access to EU research funds in ICT (Information and Communication Technologies). These measures will make the EU funds more attractive notably to SMEs and young researchers.

The action has been addressed in the Horizon 2020 Commission proposal adopted by the Commission on 30 November 2011 and by the Council on 3 December 2013.

What is the problem? Procedures for EU research funding are perceived as too complex

Current procedures to access EU research funds are cumbersome. They deter potential participants, particularly new and small research organisations, young researchers and SMEs.

Why is EU action required? To encourage participation of the best research organisations

Regional, national and European public funding initiatives for research and innovation should be as effective as possible in order to promote the highest quality research. They need to be highly attractive and accessible to:

  • The best researchers worldwide;
  • Europe's industry and entrepreneurs;
  • Universities;
  • Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs);
  • Other research and innovation actors.

What are the Commission's plans?

To improve the quality of funding initiatives, in particular:

  • Make objectives and instruments clearer;
  • Provide consistent and stable rules for EU research funding;
  • Ensure administrative procedures are light and speedy (from application through reporting to auditing).

What has the Commission done until now?

Support for SMEs is foreseen in both FP7 and the ICT Policy Support Programme as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation framework Programme (CIP). An SME-specific initiative has been piloted under WP 2011-12 in the area of "Digital Content and Languages". With respect to simplification the commission has launched the communication on simplification as well as the FP7 interim evaluation.

Several specific activities were piloted in WP2013. A set of specific SME-targeted activities including open schemes are proposed in the areas of web based applications, cloud computing, components and systems, content analytics, Future Internet and in FET. WP2013 also included horizontal activities on access to venture capital and supporting clusters and incubator environments for SMEs.

What will the Commission do next?

  • Simplification has been a central goal when designing Horizon 2020, through the programme architecture, a single set of participation rules applying to all funding provided under Horizon 2020, electronic signature of grants and amendments to simplify and speed up administrative procedures, simpler funding rules, and fewer controls and audits.
  • Support for SMEs will remain a focus for both WP2014-2015 as well as Horizon 2020. SMEs are encouraged to participate across the whole Horizon 2020 programme, and can engage in collaborative projects as part of a consortium, or seek support through a new dedicated SME instrument for highly innovative smaller companies. ODI (Open Disruptive Innovation) is the main area supported through the new SME instrument of Horizon 2020. It will directly support startups and innovative SME for concept feasibility (phase1) and validating/demonstrating innovative solutions to be proposed on the market in the following year (phase 2).
Progress Report
Status: Completed Viorel PECA Viorel PECA