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The Horizon Europe transnational programme is backed by a budget of over €95bn

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Last Thursday, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, and the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD launched the European Union’s new research and investment programme, Horizon Europe (2021-2027) in Ireland.

The new Horizon Europe programme is the largest transnational programme ever supporting research and innovation, backed by a budget of over €95bn.

The event was also an opportunity to celebrate the success of researchers and innovators under the Horizon 2020 programme that recently concluded.

When Horizon 2020 launched in 2014, Ireland set an ambitious target for the Irish research and innovation community to drawdown over €1.25bn.

We currently forecast that when all the funding is accounted for, Ireland will likely achieve this target. This success has been made possible through the commitment of Irish researchers across many disciplines, including the social sciences and humanities, and Irish enterprise. Applicants worked individually and in collaboration nationally and with European partners to compete for and win funding. Irish entities were involved in over 2,700 grant agreements over the period of the programme.

We will now support the Irish research and innovation community to build on this achievement under Horizon Europe.

The launch event marked the beginning of a seven-year journey of opportunity. More than 2,000 people registered to attend, and this level of interest is evidence of the ambition of Irish researchers and companies.

The Horizon Europe programme has three key pillars.

Pillar One, Science of Excellence, with a budget of nearly €25bn, will drive scientific excellence through the European Research Council (ERC) to enable talented researchers to push the boundaries of knowledge. The Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowships and exchanges will support researchers to expand on their knowledge and further develop their skills. Ireland has achieved much in these areas in the past and has the talent to build on our experience.

Pillar Two, Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness, with a budget of nearly €54bn, will fund collaborative research relating to societal challenges and will reinforce our European technological and industrial capacity through thematic clusters, where in partnership we can address many of the challenges we face as European and global citizens. Here there will be opportunities to collaborate in areas including health, culture, creativity and inclusive societies, digital, industry and space, climate and food agriculture, and the environment.

 Under the third Pillar, Innovative Europe, the programme is introducing new features such as the European Innovation Council (EIC).

The EIC, which has already been running in a pilot phase, will now have a budget of over €10bn to provide support for emerging and breakthrough innovations by researchers, SMEs, start-ups, and larger companies. In the pilot phase we saw Enterprise Ireland-supported companies Aquila Bioscience, Kite Medical, NVP Energy, GlasPort Bio and Kastus Technologies awarded funding. Ireland has a strong pipeline of High Potential Start Ups to build on their success.

A new feature of this framework programme is the five Missions which are commitments to solve some of the greatest challenges facing our world.

By 2030, the Missions aim to achieve three million lives saved from cancer diseases, 100 climate neutral cities, healthy oceans, seas and inland waters, healthy soils and food, and regions resilient to climate changes. Researchers and innovators will be critical to achieving these aims and there will be many opportunities to contribute and to compete for funding.

At the launch event we heard from a panel of researchers and innovators from the University of Limerick, Athlone Institute of Technology, the Tyndall National Institute, IBM Research-Ireland, Sirius XT and Hibergene about their experience of winning European funding. All agreed the application process took a lot of planning and preparation, that it is very competitive and, most importantly, that is well worth the effort.

 I would encourage all researchers and innovator companies to look at the opportunities under the programme and to contact their national contact points in Enterprise Ireland and across the Horizon Europe national support network for information, funding, guidance and expert support in evaluating opportunities and making applications.

Speaking at the launch event, Commissioner Gabriel stated that with Ireland being a strong innovator, she was confident that its top talents will continue to participate with great success in Horizon Europe and help deliver new knowledge and solutions for a sustainable future.

I couldn’t agree more.

 

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Garrett Murray is National Director for Horizon Europe at Enterprise Ireland

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