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Horizon 2020 – achievements so far and next steps
An assessment of the first three years of Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme, shows that during the period 2014-2030 it is projected to create up to 35,000 jobs in the research sector alone and tackle big challenges like Ebola and the Zika virus. The programme has been so successful in attracting talent that it received applications for projects deemed "excellent" worth well above its current budget.
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation said: "Horizon 2020's interim evaluation and stakeholder feedback confirm that an EU programme for research and innovation is an invaluable asset for Europe that fuels economic growth, creates the jobs of tomorrow and tackles the societal challenges of our time. However, we can always do even better, and will use the lessons learned to make Horizon 2020's last three years [up to 2020] even more effective, and to design a fit-for-purpose successor programme".
The interim evaluation published recently by the European Commission estimates that the economic impact of Horizon 2020 may be worth €400 billion (£347bn) by 2030. The programme has created international networks of excellence, fostered cross-border cooperation and funded many multi-national projects. More than two-thirds of the projects supported by Horizon 2020 would not have happened without its funding.
UK participants are traditionally at the forefront of this research excellence.
To quote some examples, two UK companies – Lanzatech UK Ltd and E4TECH Ltd – are involved in building a plant that will produce bioethanol fuel from emissions produced through steelmaking. This will be the first of its kind in Europe and the biggest plant in the world.
The University of Oxford is taking part in the EU-funded Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GLOPID-r) that links together research funders, the scientific community, industry, patient groups and public health actors and ensures rapid response to emergencies like Ebola and the Zika virus. Thanks to such rapid response supported by Horizon 2020 Ebola vaccine trials are now under way in West Africa.
The programme has proved extremely attractive and demand is high. Participants come from over 130 different countries and more than half are new applicants that have not taken part in the previous 7th Framework Programme for Research (FP7). On an annual basis, the number of applications for Horizon 2020 has increased by more than 50 percent compared to FP7.
The evaluation also identified areas for improvement like dedicating more funding to sustainable development and climate change or reaching out to young, fast-growing companies.
A separate report New horizons: Future scenarios for research and innovation policies in Europe looks into the future of research and innovation policy and investment at EU level. It describes a range of future scenarios in the 2030s and suggests ways how research could create conditions for Europe to cope with the challenges presented by these scenarios and flourish.
The Commission welcomes comments and reaction to the report at RTD-Foresight@ec.europa.eu.
The two reports will help the Commission design the final work programme for Horizon 2020 for 2018-20. They will also provide the evidence for the High Level Group on maximising the impact of EU Research and Innovation Programmes. This group will present a report and recommendations at the conference Research and innovation: shaping our future in Brussels on 3 July. The Commission in turn will draw policy conclusions from the interim evaluation and react to the recommendations of the High Level Group in a report due to be adopted this autumn.