Scientists urged to grab slice of €6.4bn grant
Published 20/07/2010 | 05:00
IRISH businesses and scientists have been urged to apply for a slice of the €6.4bn EU research grant, available as part of ongoing efforts to push Europe back into growth.
The grant -- the biggest ever for scientific study -- will be available to researchers, small- and medium-sized business, and industry. It will focus on research into health, energy, climate change and food security. Announcing the grant, Ireland's EU commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn said yesterday that the money would create at least 165,000 jobs across the 27 member states.
The money will be shared out by subject area, with a total of 16,000 projects. Some €800m and up to 3,000 places have been earmarked for small- and medium-sized companies.
"That is big money and it has never been needed more than now," Ms Geoghegan-Quinn said.
"We need to keep investing in research and innovation not despite the crisis, not despite the fiscal problems we face, but because of those challenges."
While this programme will generate 165,000 direct jobs, Europe has traditionally been behind the US in attracting venture capital.
Labour MEP Alan Kelly has urged Irish companies to apply, which they can do by contacting Enterprise Ireland.
"If Ireland is marketing ourselves as the innovation island, then we should be trying to maximise our benefits from this fund," Mr Kelly said.
"The fact that we have an Irish commissioner over the portfolio will hopefully encourage more businesses to apply."
Health will get €600m in grants, while information and communication technology will get €1.2bn.
For the first time, the programme will spend €206m in trying to get new medicines through trials and on to the market more quickly.
A total of 720 Irish researchers have been granted €213m from the EU's €50bn research budget since 2007.
However, governments continue to be the biggest spenders -- EU money represents just 5pc of all public-funded research in the bloc.
As part of the EU's long-term growth and jobs plan, governments are being asked to set themselves spending targets for research and innovation, taking into account money from Brussels and national coffers.
The Government pledged in 2008 to make Ireland a "smart economy" based on high productivity and low carbon usage.
Mr Kelly said: "I would just hope that the Government deliver on this front, rather than giving pious platitudes to our innovation community saying they are building a smart economy, but not backing it up with any action."