More than €8bn being offered to researchers by the EU is expected to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the short term and come up with solutions to some of the globe’s major problems.
Irish researchers are hoping to win €150m, bringing the total to more than half-a-billion euro over the six years of the EU research programme — more than double that won in the previous programme.
The invitation to researchers working in third-level colleges, business and state agencies is the biggest ever by the EU and brings the total to €55bn over six years.
Announcing details Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said the €8.1bn is expected to leverage an additional €6bn of public and private investment, increase employment by 210,000 in the short term, and over a 15-year period contribute €75bn to Europe’s growth.
"Knowledge is the currency of the global economy. If Europe wants to continue to compete in the 21st century, we must support the research and innovation that will generate growth and jobs, now and in the future. The competition for EU funding makes sure that taxpayers’ money goes to the best projects that tackle issues that concern all of us," she said.
EU research funding generates enormous added value for Europe, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn said: €1 gives between €7 and €14 of added value. The current research programme in the long term will have a macro-economic impact of creating 900,000 jobs of which a third are in research and add 0.96% to the EU’s GDP.
Research and Innovation Minister Seán Sherlock said the areas for which funding is available in this round offer enormous potential to Irish researchers as they include marine, food, health, environment and communications technology.
Ibec’s Aidan Sweeney said that Irish SMEs had greatly increased their participation and now ranked first in the EU. Science Foundation Ireland’s Professor Mark Ferguson said the country has a truly global scientific reach that will be marked by the European Science Open Forum in Dublin this week and by the fact that the capital is the EU City of Science this year.
One of the biggest single sums, €1.75bn, is aimed at attracting the very best brains to stay in Europe or move here to carry out pioneering frontier research. This will aim to stop the brain-drain of EU researchers in all areas from social science and humanities to physics.
This has proved very successful in the past, funding four Nobel laureates and the winners of more than 30 internationally recognised prizes. There is a strong emphasis on gender balance, national diversity and SMEs, and on fighting societal problems such as cancer, climate change and energy scarcity.
A further €1.2bn is earmarked to help SMEs innovate, while €1.5bn is for research in ICT. Some of this aims to break new ground by combining ICT with research in health, material and neuro-sciences, neuro-robotics and cloud computing. Close to €300m is available for research on security issues.