On 13th October, the European Commission adopted the 2016-2017 Work Programme for Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme.
On this occasion, Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, proclaimed: “Research and innovation are the engines of Europe’s progress and vital to addressing today’s new pressing challenges like immigration, climate change, clean energy and healthy societies.
Over the next two years, €16 billion from Horizon 2020 will support Europe’s top scientific efforts, making the difference to citizens’ lives.”
The 2016-2017 Work Programme is aligned with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s priorities and will notably support actions which contribute to the Jobs, Growth and Investment Package, the Digital Single Market, the Energy Union and Climate change policy, the Internal Market and making Europe a stronger global actor.
Funding opportunities will take the form of calls for proposals, public procurements and actions such as Horizon Prizes and will support a wide range of initiatives.
In order to maximise the programme’s reach and ensure support for the highest possible number of projects, the “Seal of Excellence” scheme was launched on 12th October.
The scheme will see promising project proposals awarded a quality label, meaning that, for example, projects evaluated as “excellent” but not selected under Horizon 2020 due to a lack of budget will be easily identifiable as worthy of investment and thus more likely to receive funding elsewhere.
The scheme will initially focus on proposals submitted by SMEs under the SME Instrument of Horizon 2020 but could later be extended to include other areas of the programme.
Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions, has underlined his support for the new scheme, stating that: “Thanks to the Seal of Excellence regions and cities can include in their innovation and investment plans outstanding SMEs projects that comply with their growth objectives and priorities.”
Indeed, to facilitate its implementation, the European Committee of the Regions and the Commission will establish a Knowledge Exchange Platform for local and regional authorities.
“The new scheme constitutes a real opportunity for SMEs in Europe. It’s time to start writing!”