EC invests €6bn in future tech with Horizon 2020 partnerships

Under Horizon 2020, the EC is investing $8.5 billion in long-term research and development in eight technology areas where Europe wants to be able to compete in global markets. These include 5G networking, photonics, and robotics.
Written by Jack Schofield, Contributor
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The European Commission has established eight partnership agreements with industry representatives to invest €6.2 billion (£5.2 billion / $8.5 billion) in the research and near-market development of important technologies such as 5G networking, high-performance computing, photonics, and robotics. Under the contractual Public Private Partnerships (cPPPs) signed today (Tuesday) by Neelie Kroes, the commissioner responsible for the Digital Agenda, the industry partners are expected to invest from €3 to €10 for each euro of EC investment. The partners include companies both large and small, universities, research laboratories and other parties.

The EC wants Europe to have a significant market presence in these selected areas, and is investing as follows

Factories of the Future (FoF): €1.15 billion to support the manufacturing industry through the development of sustainable production technologies and systems. (PDF)

Energy-efficient Buildings (EeB): €600 million to increase the competitiveness and energy efficiency of the construction industry. (PDF)

European Green Vehicles Initiative (EGVI): €750 million to develop a competitive and resource efficient transport system with significantly less CO2 emissions. (PDF)

Sustainable Process Industry (SPIRE): €900 million to make the process industry more resource- and energy-efficient. (PDF)

Advanced 5G network infrastructure for the Future Internet (5G): €700 million to stimulate the development of network internet infrastructure to ensure advanced ICT services for all sectors and users. (PDF)

High Performance Computing (HPC): €700 million to stimulate Europe’s economic growth and advance European science. (PDF)

Robotics: €700 million for "a key driver of industrial competitiveness and essential to address key societal challenges in areas such as demographic change, health and well-being, food production, transport and security," says the EC. (PDF)

Photonics: €700 million for "one of the key enabling technologies for our future prosperity and an essential element of many sectors, from energy efficient lighting and health, to optical data communication, laser based manufacturing and sensing for safety and security". (PDF)

The first three PPPs -- factories, energy-efficient buildings and green cars -- were actually set up in 2009 "in response to the economic crisis", and their success has encouraged further investment. 5G and photonics are also considered important. The EC says: "The telecommunications sector employs at least 1.2 million in the EU and Europe has a 27 percent share of a €17,000 billion global market, while the photonics industry employs 300,000 people directly, with a share of 18 percent of the €350 billion global photonics market."

In a press release, Neelie Kroes said: "This is a great opportunity for Europe. These PPPs will maintain our global lead in robotics, photonics, high performance computing, telecoms and give us a head start in smart cities, intelligent transport, education, entertainment, media and other promising markets. Combined with a comprehensive industrial strategy, the PPPs will ensure vigorous European leadership and a better future for all."

The cPPPs would have liked more money. For example, the Photonics 21 Association had been negotiating for €1.4 billion rather than €700 million. As a result, it will sponsor €3.5 billion worth of R&D rather than the hoped-for €7 billion. This reflects tighter EC budgets.

Companies, universities, and research organisations that want to participate can make bids and proposals at the Horizon 2020 Participant Portal. Participation is open to non-European companies who are willing to invest in doing some R&D in Europe.

Neelie Kroes signing ceremony
Neelie Kroes at today's signing ceremony on the launch of eight contractual Public Private Partnerships under Horizon 2020. Photo credit © European Union, 2013


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