At the turn of the millennium, European industry began to face difficulties arising mainly from lack of specialisation in high technology sectors. There were also problems of inadequate funding and lack of scale.
Partnerships between the Commission and industry intend to bring project results closer to the market and improve the link between research and societal growth.
There are seven partnerships set up by the Commission to implement Horizon 2020.
Partnerships with the industry are established in the form of Article 187 Joint Undertakings (JUs). This term comes from the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and refers to the article that defines the Joint Undertakings. They are a form of public-private partnerships set up in strategic areas of research and innovation.
After the initial success under FP7, the Commission announced in 2014 the Innovation Investment Package, as part of Horizon 2020, aiming to mobilise €22 billion in public and private investments to support the EU economy.
The selection of the partnerships was made in order to maximise their value to the EU and their expected impact. A strong and long-term commitment from the industry partners supports the Commission and contributes to the delivery of the JUs' highly ambitious goals.
Open calls for proposals are published regularly by the Joint Undertakings.
The key strength for all the JUs is their ability to engage and leverage strategic industry partners across borders and business sectors, and their direct contribution to competitiveness and EU policy goals.
The qualitative improvements to the sectors where the JUs operate are a widely praised contribution attributed to the JUs and one which according to a public survey would not have happened without the involvement of the EU.
The Commission conducts regular evaluations of each partnership, reviewing their progress and sharing the findings with the Parliament and the Council. The evaluation is carried out by independent experts for the Commission. The most recent evaluation was made out in 2017, with positive results.
The results of the 2017 evaluation show that thanks to the JUs' establishment at the EU level, important achievements have been observed:
These improvements could not be achieved by the industry alone, or by its partnership with the Member States without an intervention on a scale of that offered by the EU . Nevertheless, the full effect of the JUs' work will only be seen in a few years time. As with all research, taking a breakthrough discovery all the way to a successful product or service needs time. This is especially important in sensitive areas of research, such as public health.