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European Commission > Investing in European Research > Structural funds

Structural funds

Research and high-tech activities are highly concentrated in the core regions of the EU. Approximately half of total research expenditure goes to 30 regions out of 254. Disparities between regions in business research expenditure are even wider.

The Structural Funds play a substantial role to help all regions build research and innovation capacities corresponding to their situation and priorities.

Between 2000 and 2006, approximately € 13 billion – around 6% of the EU Structural Funds – will have been spent on research infrastructures and networks, innovative business start-ups and the modernisation of SMEs.

This amount is expected to increase from 2007 onwards, as the EU’s regional policy will increasingly focus on knowledge, research and innovation. It has been proposed to earmark 60% of the structural funds for actions contributing to the Lisbon objectives. A significant part should be devoted to R&D and innovation.

This approach is reflected in the Commission’s draft Strategic Guidelines for CohesionPolicy, which expect the Structural Funds to fully back the implementation of the Partnership for Growth and Jobs.

Regions and Member States can use the Structural Funds in a flexible manner to help meet their specific needs and exploit the synergies with the Framework Programme and other Community instruments.

A broad range of research and innovation related actions may be funded, such as regional and transregional clusters, poles of excellence, technology transfer, business support services and actions to develop human capital and to help workers and enterprises anticipate and adapt to economic change.

In addition, innovative actions will also be co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to develop new high quality and value added products and to promote the sustainable use of natural resources.

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