Scientists gather in Brussels to explore new EU funding opportunities

David Dickson

David Dickson
Correspondent, SciDev.Net

Last month, the heads of the 27 countries belonging to the European Union (EU) approved a budget for activities to be funded through the European Commission over the next seven years.

Included in this was approval of the latest multi-year programme for activities concerning research and technology. Known as the Framework Programme since its launch in the early 1980s, this now has the less prosaic title of Horizon 2020, and will last from 2014 to 2020.

Like all of the other commission’s programmes, the budget for Horizon 2020 is less than had been hoped. Originally the commission had asked for €80 billion ($104 billion); last month’s decision – made under pressure from the United Kingdom and others to keep down costs, and still needing approval by the European Parliament – only approved just over €70 billion.

But that is still a substantial amount of money. And a significant amount will be spent on research projects outside Europe, based on the idea that not only can European science benefit directly from working with non-European collaborators, but also that joint research can promote other objectives – including providing assistance to developing countries.

Now that the green light has been given, science policymakers, scientists and industry representatives from 100 different countries, including many from the developing world, are meeting in Brussels this week to hear about the new funding opportunities under Horizon 2020, and to prepare their bids for a slice of the action.

The occasion is a five-day conference on ‘EU Science: Global Challenges, Global Collaboration’ (ES:GC2) taking place in the European Parliament.

Topics to be covered range widely, from health research to space-related R&D. They will address not only research itself, but a wide spectrum of research-related policies and regulations, such as data protection, clinical trials, medical devices and regulatory safety.

But ES:GC2 will not just be a talking shop. There will be training sessions on topics from preparing project proposals for Horizon 2020 funding proposals, to the use patent data. And there will be many opportunities for those attending to network with potential partners.

The last two days of the meeting will also see a High-level Conference on ‘Promoting Africa-EU Research Infrastructure Partnerships’. This will bring together scientists, industry representatives and policymakers to discuss how best to facilitate cooperation between Africa Europe in building infrastructure for science, technology and innovation.

SciDev.Net will be providing regular reports from the meeting. And will be keeping a close ear to the ground to hear how developing countries are likely to benefit from the new round of EU funding.


This blog post is part of SciDev.Net’s coverage of EU Science: Global Challenges & Global Collaboration which takes place 4-8 March 2013, in Brussels, Belgium. To read further news and analysis please visit our website.

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