Hall: UK in line for billions of EU funding for universities and small businesses

Fiona Hall MEPLeader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs Fiona Hall today hailed a major victory for the UK research community as the European Parliament overwhelmingly approved the EU’s new £64 billion research and innovation programme.

The new framework, Horizon 2020, will be the largest research programme in the world and will see an increase of funding of almost a third compared to the current period. That means the UK could be in line for almost £5 billion worth of science funding from 2014-2020.

Universities in the UK have received almost £3 billion under the current research programme, FP7, more than universities in any other EU country.

The new research framework includes a separate £2.2 billion budget line, pushed for by the Liberal Group (ALDE ) in the European Parliament, which will be specifically earmarked for small businesses. Meanwhile COSME, a new £2 billion EU fund to help small businesses expand, was also approved today in the European Parliament, meaning smaller firms are now in line for at least £4 billion worth of additional EU funding.

Fiona Hall commented:

“Today marks a historic shift in EU spending towards boosting innovation, creating jobs and helping small businesses.

“Universities and companies in the region are now in line for millions of pounds worth of funding, enabling them to create thousands of new jobs and develop the technologies of the future. Being part of the world’s largest research programme will also allow our universities and scientists to partake in exciting international projects such as the development of electric vehicles or new cures for killer diseases.”

“Most importantly, smaller businesses and entrepreneurs will now find it easier to apply for EU funding to help them get new products off the ground, through simpler rules and a separate budget line.

“This package shows the importance of the EU for local jobs and the economy. However, it also shows that by getting stuck in we can play a leading role in reforming the EU for the better.

“From the outset, Liberal Democrats have fought for a smaller EU budget that prioritises jobs and innovation. That is exactly what this deal will deliver.”

Notes to Editors

The EU’s Horizon 2020 programme was approved today in a vote in the European Parliament’s plenary session. Horzion 2020 will be the largest research funding programme in the world, and will become the EU’s third largest funding programme after CAP and Cohesion Funding. It has been allocated a total budget of 77 billion euros under the EU’s Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2014-2020.

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. UK HEIs (higher education institutes) receive more funding than those in any other country (3.482bn euros from 2007-2012). Amongst the top ten higher education participant institutions, five are from the UK (Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial, UCL and Edinburgh). In total, including funds for research centres and businesses, the UK has received £3.84 billion, more than any other EU member state except Germany. The long-term impact of FP7 for the EU as a whole is estimated at 900,000 additional jobs and a growth in GDP of nearly 1%.

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.

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