Category / EU

Welcome to the EU section of the blog! Emily Cieciura (BU’s Research Facilitator – EU and International), Jo Garrad (Funding Development Manager) and Dianne Goodman (Funding Development Co-ordinator) together try to take the pain out of finding and applying for EU funding by horizon scanning many sources and placing the most important information on this page.

We blog as often as possible on everything from calls for proposals and partner searches, to networking event opportunities, all the latest on Horizon 2020 and international funding. We also use the blog to disseminate information on EUADS (BU’s EU academic training initiative), how to write brilliant proposals, how to find partners and other top tips!

New & improved UKRO website launched at last!

UK Research OfficeThe new and very much improved UKRO portal is now available , Not only is it easier on the eye, it is finally a fully integrated system and much more effective to search.

To access the extensive ‘UKRO Subscriber Services’ and your personal news page,  go to ‘Subscriber Login’ and enter your email address and the password ukro4web. This is a temporary password. Once you are logged in, please go to ‘Edit Profile’ to set a new, personalised password.

You have been set up with a default profile which means that your personal news page will cover all information types and categories, and you will receive a daily email alert. You can customise this at any time using the short guide to the new Portal (and FAQs) on the homepage.

If you haven’t ever set up an UKRO account; now is the perfect time! UKRO is sponsored by the UK research councils and provides information and advice on EU funding opportunities, and EU programmes and policies. Signing up for the alert service means you will be kept up to date on relevant funding opportunities, news and partner searches.

Find EU Partners for the Lifelong Learning Programme, Ethics in Security or Health

Attending Information days and workshops held by the European Commission not only gives you a great opportunity to find out more about a call and ask any questions about it, but these events are also critical networking opportunities to meet others interested in building a consortium and applying for funding. An info day on the Lifelong Learning Programme will be held in October and a workshop on Ethical issues in Security Research in September.  If you are interested in applying to either of these calls, you should attend the info day.

To help find partners in Health funding, the details of participants who attended the recent partnering day on the 2012 Health Theme calls in Brussels are now available. A search page has been created where it is possible to look for participants of the recent partnering event by area of the work programme, type of organisation, country or through a free search. If you are planning on being involved in a proposal for the 2012 calls for the FP7 Co-operation Health Theme, then you should join look at this search page Health partnering day search page

FP7 Work Programmes and Calls for Proposals to be released today!

 Annual budgets for most programmes and themes have risen and some excellent funding opportunities exist. We will be summarising all of the Work Programmes and making them available to you this week.

There are 53 calls for the 2012 round of FP7 with an overall budget of €7billion. 39 were published in the Work Programmes on 20 July, with different deadlines in 2011 and 2012 and the other calls will be published later in 2011 or 2012.

There are a few new features in 2012 compared to previous FP7 years, with the most obvious being the greater integration of innovation and the objectives of the Innovation Union Flagship Initiative in the Work Programmes. Support to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) will continue to form part of most of the calls, including a pilot call under the Health Theme in 2012 with specific SME-targeted actions, similar to the US Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) schemes.

Latest EU funding for ICT

Quantifying public procurement of research and development of ICT solutions in Europe: proposals should gather quantitative evidence of research and development and ICT products and services procured by public contracting authorities across EU member states and associated countries, and cluster the data on a map to show the main fields of public interest in which procurement expenditures occur. Funding is worth up to €400,000 over 24 months. Deadline 23.09.11

e-Skills for Competitiveness and Innovation: the aim of this fund is to develop, with relevant stakeholders, a coherent vision and a detailed roadmap as well as foresight scenarios on the supply and demand of e-skills for competitiveness and innovation in Europe (2011–2015). It will build on the momentum of the EU e-skills strategy. The skills needed include ICT, marketing, design, law, management, etc. for entrepreneurs, managers and ICT professionals and advanced users in all industries. Closing date: 16 September 2011

More help needed for small businesses says European Investment Fund

New financial instruments must be introduced that are better tailored to the individual needs of smaller businesses in Europe—which are having serious problems in accessing capital for growth—according to both employers and fund managers. Several EU stakeholders including the EIF have called for a comprehensive set of measures to further support these smaller companies obtain finance.  The demand for funding under existing programmes such as the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), which EIF manages on behalf of the European Commission, outstrips current budget availability.

Researchers and NGOs slam industry bias in EU research funding plans

A group of NGOs and scientists’ organisations have complained that the Commission’s plans for the future research funding programme are biased towards commercial interests and neglect the needs of citizens.

In an open letter,  the signatories urge the European Commission, Parliament and national governments to “overcome the myth that only highly complex and cost intensive technology can create sustainability, employment and well-being.”

EU funding for IP

European Investment Bank -universities research action sponsorships: funding is available for research covering European intellectual property regimes and their impact on technology transfer/IP finance; analysis of investment needs in infrastructure sectors; the rising of credit risk in microcredit: origins, warning signals, current state and future prospects. Funding of up to €100,000 per year is available for a period of three years. Deadline: 16 September 2011

A look at Horizon 2020….

A  workshop this week on the new Horizon 2020 outlined the main objectives of the new programme. These are proposed as:
*To move from different priorities in each programme and initiative to common strategic priorities focusing on societal challenges, competitiveness and research excellence;
*To move from gaps between the stages (R & D, demonstration, market take up, etc) to coherent support for projects and organisations across the innovation cycle from research to retail;
*To move from a strong focus on research and technological development to stronger support for innovation, including non-technological innovation and market take-up.

The societal challenges will include 5 main strands that he explicitly linked to existing FP7 activity:

  1. Inclusive societies (Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities);
  2. Responsible Research and Innovation (Science in Society);
  3. Secure Societies (Security research);
  4. Digital Societies (ICT to improve inclusion and equal participation, ICT for trust and confidence/security);
  5. Knowledge base for research and innovation policies (Coherent Development for Research Policies)

Latest EU Social Sciences & Humanities funding

Free movement of lawyers: proposals should evaluate the legal framework for the free movement of lawyers against market and regulatory developments in the single market. Funding is worth up to €500,000 over 11 months. Deadline 15.09.11

Socio-economic impacts of new measures to improve accessibility of goods and services for people with disabilities: proposals should explore the merits of adopting EU regulatory measures to substantially improve the proper functioning of the internal market for accessible products and services, including measures to step up the use of public procurement.  Funding is worth up to €800,000 over 12 months. Deadline: 22.08.11

Roma in education: this funding supports transnational cooperation projects in the development and implementation of coherent and comprehensive joined-up educational measures to raise the participation and attainment levels of Roma students in general education and vocational educational training, and to support network activities for awareness-raising of the social integration of Roma children and students.  The total budget for the call is €584,000 and each grant is worth up to €150,000 over a maximum of 12 months. Deadline: 16.09.11

European policy network on the education of children and young people with a migrant background: this funding supports cross-European collaboration between high level decision makers, academics and practitioners for raising the educational attainment of children and young people from a migrant background. The maximum duration of projects is 36 months, and a total budget of €500,000 is available for 2012. Deadline 14.10.11

Support for the Digitisation of European Cinemas: the aim of the ‘digitisation of cinemas’ scheme is to encourage cinemas showing a significant percentage of non-national European works to exploit the possibilities offered by digital. This call for proposals aims to facilitate the digital transition of cinemas screening European films by supporting the side costs linked to the purchase of a digital projector. Closing date: 15 September 2011

e-Skills for Competitiveness and Innovation: the aim of this fund is to develop, with relevant stakeholders, a coherent vision and a detailed roadmap as well as foresight scenarios on the supply and demand of e-skills for competitiveness and innovation in Europe (2011–2015).  It will build on the momentum of the EU e-skills strategy. The skills needed include ICT, marketing, design, law, management, etc. for entrepreneurs, managers and ICT professionals and advanced users in all industries. Closing date: 16 September 2011

Six new priority Research Infrastructures for Europe

The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap has just been updated, with six new research infrastructures added. The ESFRI roadmap was set up to support a coherent and strategy-led approach to policy-making on research infrastructures. The six new research infrastructures that have been added are considered to have a major importance for the research landscape in the EU. Once on the ESFRI roadmap, partners will work towards securing national funding in order to construct and operate them.

Three of the infrastructures are in the bio and medical sciences (BMS) field and three in energy. In the energy field, EU-SOLARIS is the European SOLAR Research Infrastructure for Concentrating Solar Power, MYRRHA is the Multipurpose hybrid Research Reactor for High-technology Applications and Windscanner is the European Wind Scanner Facility. In the BMS field, ANAEE is the Infrastructure for Analysis and Experimentation on Ecosystems, ISBE is the Infrastructure for Systems Biology-Europe and MIRRI is the Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure. The updated roadmap also provides a report on the implementation of and the progress made by the other ESFRI Research Infrastructures.

Latest EU energy related funding

European Energy Efficiency Fund: this fund will invest in energy saving, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, particularly in urban settings, with the aim of achieving at least a 20 per cent energy saving or an equivalent reduction in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The fund will offer a wide range of funding streams such as senior and junior loans, guarantees or equity participation to local, regional and, under certain conditions, to national public authorities to promote sustainable energy investments. At its launch, the fund is worth a total of €265m with contributions from the European Investment Bank and national financial institutions.

Eco-innovation projects: this funding supports the market penetration of an environmental product, service, management practice or process with a proven track record, but which has not yet been fully marketed. The indicative budget for this call is €36 million and funding will provide up to 50 per cent of a project’s costs over a period of 36 months. Closing date: 8 September 2011.

Assessment of scenarios and options towards a resource-efficient Europe: proposals should identify inefficient uses of resources that cut across different sectors and policy areas at meso- and macro-economic level and quantitatively assess the potential for, and effects of, efficiency improvements within systems. Funding is worth between €700,000 and €750,000 over 24 months. Deadline: 22.08.11.

Multilateral Research on Material Efficiency: Proposals are invited on the topic of Interdisciplinary Program on Material Efficiency – A first step towards sustainable manufacturing. This call will be supported by €10 million over a three year period and it is hoped that between eight and ten collaborations will be funded.

Commission proposes €80bn for Horizon 2020

The next Framework Programme – Horizon 2020 –  will be worth €80.2 billion if the European Commission gets its way, the proposal for the 2014-2020 EU budget has shown.  This would represent a 46 per cent increase on the budget of Framework 7, which runs from 2007 to 2013 and is worth about €56bn. In a statement announcing the budget proposal, the Commission said that the increase is meant to boost Europe’s economy and shows a lasting commitment to research, science and innovation.

Europe 2020: latest Structural Funds update

The latest EU proposals reveal several key issues for UK Structural Funds which are summarised below.

Less money for the UK: the amount received by the UK is likely to fall (as GDP is higher than in other Member States). The overall budget for the structural funds at EU level will remain roughly the same (€376 billion); the greatest proportion will be earmarked for poor areas below 75% of the EU GDP average (unlikely to be any in England). The levels of total investment will still be significant and all areas will continue to have at least some access to funds.

New opportunities for part of England: there is opportunity for some areas of England to benefit from greater levels of structural funding. In the current programme, areas were either identified as rich (competitiveness) or poor (convergence) with some phasing in areas in between, receiving levels of funding accordingly. From 2014 it is proposed a new transition category be created between the two, at the level 75%-90% GDP, which would receive greater levels of funding than competitiveness areas. All other areas, with a GDP above 90%, will continue to benefit from competitiveness funding as they do now.

Tightening priorities: structural funds may be targeted at a fewer number of EU priorities. Competitiveness and transition areas will be required to focus economic development spending (ERDF) on energy efficiency, renewable energies, SME competitiveness and innovation. It is also proposed at least half of structural funds must be spent on skills development projects (ESF) in next programme round.

Stronger performance management: the EU will negotiate a partnership contract with the UK government, setting out a commitment for spending structural funds to address priorities and progress will be assessed through a performance framework measuring outcomes.

New funds for research, infrastructure and education: a range of expenditure lines will be integrated into three new EU-wide programmes: a ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ is proposed to offer €40 billion into transport, energy and ICT infrastructure projects; ‘Horizon 2020’ will integrate a range of research and innovation funds into a single €80 billion programme; and a single education and youth programme of €15.2 billion will integrate the range of youth development, learning and exchange funds.

Rural development: the rural development element of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will receive €89.9 billion from 2014-20, and will be subject to similar performance and conditionality measures like structural funds. Funding for farm payments is proposed at €281.8 billion, roughly the same as current. The EU will make proposals permitting flexibility between the rural development and farm payment funds.

More coordinated spending: a common strategic framework for ERDF, ESF, the rural development programme will aim to join up the strategic ambitions of the different funds, as driven by the EU2020 strategy.

Financial engineering instruments: proposals place more emphasis on using the EU budget to leverage additional private sector investment.

Simplified administration: proposals aim to simplify, speed up and improve administration and delivery, requiring that both the EU and member states commit to radical simplification.

Negotiation timetable: proposals must be agreed unanimously by Member States, who are working towards an agreement for the end of 2012. Alongside this, important detail for each of the individual funds will be published in the autumn 2011, and Government is beginning to plan how funding programmes will be administered in England.

not quite EU but China & UK sign new agreement!

Scientific and technical collaboration between the United Kingdom and China has expanded further with the signing of a new agreement covering sectors including energy, advanced engineering and life sciences. The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the China Guanghua Science and Technology Foundation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), coinciding with the meeting in London of Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

How difficult is getting FP7 funding? Not too hard for some UK and EU fraudsters!

Nature has reported that the European Anti-Fraud Office are currently in the process of prosecuting project consortia who received EU grants for fake research projects. The fraud was committed by a number of beneficiaries who appear to have made up entire research projects, including whole research teams, fictitious companies and subcontractors, and won EU grants for these projects. It appears that the projects were designed solely to obtain the funds and that no actual research activity was carried out.

Four collaborative projects under in the ICT area were terminated by the European Commission, and several individuals were charged for the fraud. Further projects are currently being investigated in the UK, France, Greece, Austria, Sweden, Slovenia and Poland.

It should be stressed that this is a very rare and unusual example of fraud in EU grants, especially when it comes to research grants, and it seems it is never possible to completely prevent fraud, even with the already very strict and robust systems in place for the Framework Programme. Overall, there continues to be a lot of support for simplification of the EU funding programmes including for greater acceptance of own (nationally approved) accounting systems, clarity and consistency.