Europe invites bids for €6.4bn in research funding

In its largest-ever research call, the European Commission has requested applications for a funding pot that includes €1.2bn for information and communication technologies
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

The European Commission has called for applications for a total €6.4bn in research funding, the largest amount it has so far invested in research and innovation.

Information technology research will receive a €1.2bn (£1bn) boost out of that amount, research innovation and science commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said in a statement on Monday. The Commission will publish calls for funding bids from Tuesday, she said.

"Investment in research and innovation is the only smart and lasting way out of crisis and towards sustainable and socially equitable growth," said Geoghegan-Quinn. "This European package will contribute to new and better products and services, a more competitive and greener Europe, and a better society with a higher quality of life."

Around €600m of IT research funding has been allocated to next-generation network and service infrastructures, robotic systems, electronic and photonic components and digital content technologies. Over €400m will go towards research into issues such as a lower-carbon economy, the ageing society and adaptable and sustainable factories.

Nanotechnologies will get €270m, with the focus on research that could lead to patenting and commercialisation opportunities. Additionally, €90m is earmarked in 2011 for the Future Internet Public Private Partnership, which aims to further European network infrastructures such as smart grids.

The IT funding ties in with a commitment laid out in the Commission's Digital Agenda to increase European technology funding year-on-year, said the statement. The total funding announced will address challenges such as climate change, energy and food security, said Geoghegan-Quinn. Health research will receive more than €600m, while scientists will get an extra €1.3bn through the European Research Council.

Small businesses will for the first time get ring-fenced budgets in a number of areas. For example, in health, knowledge-based bio-economy, environment and nanotechnology, 35 percent of the budget must go towards SMEs. In total, small businesses will receive close to €800m funding.

The budget for the research funding was made available via the Commission's Seventh Framework Programme, a budget allocation programme which in the past has distributed funds for counterterrorism technologies.

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