Liberal Democrats deliver billions of EU research funding for small businesses

MEPs voted today to approve the EU’s new science programme, Horizon 2020, which will invest almost £60 billion in research and innovation over the next seven years.

Fiona Hall, leader of the UK Liberal Democrat MEPs and European industry spokesperson, commented:

“This is an exciting time for the research community and for businesses up and down the country. Liberal Democrats have ensured that over £2.3 billion will be allocated to small innovative businesses, which provide the key to creating new skilled jobs and rebalancing the economy. We also pushed for simpler rules to reduce administrative costs and make it easier for smaller firms to apply for funding.”

“Our world-beating universities and research centres take part in more EU-funded research projects than any other country in Europe. This £60 billion package will ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of developing the technologies of the future, from discovering cures to deadly diseases to pioneering new forms of low-cost, sustainable transport and energy.”

Dr Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, added:

“Britain’s future economy depends on innovation happening now. We are great beneficiaries from European research funding, which helps everything from blue skies research to translation.”

“This decision will benefit us now and into the future, another great example of our gains from being in the EU. I am particularly pleased that small businesses will benefit – they are the dynamic powerhouses of our economy.”

Notes to Editors

The EU’s Horizon 2020 programme was approved today in a vote in the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy committee. The final vote is expected at the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg on the 21st – 24th October.

Under the new programme, €24.3 billion has been allocated to research, €17 billion for industrial innovation and €31 billion to help address major challenges such as making renewable energy more affordable, developing sustainable transport and mobility and coping with the challenge of an ageing population.

The Liberal Democrat group in the European Parliament led the calls for a dedicated €2.7 billion instrument for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises. A target of at least 20% of the second two pillars of the budget is to be given to smaller businesses, the equivalent of almost €10 billion. Simpler rules for funding applications will reduce administrative costs and cut down the average time-to-grant from 12 to 8 months.

The current EU research program (FP7) has provided €4.6 billion in research grants to British scientists and innovators over the last five years.  This is more than any other member state except Germany, and equal to nearly 10% of the UK’s national science budget. 

The EU’s unique cooperation programmes enable scientists and innovators from across Europe to work together in order to address common challenges. 43% of all research projects funded so far under FP7 included UK partners – a higher level of involvement than any other EU member state.

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