Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn speaks about Innovation Union

“Innovation Union” Speech by Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Berlin 23. February 2012

Excerpt from the Commissioner’s speech:

“Our future depends on competitive industries that are able to create jobs. This means investing in research, in new technologies and in creating a climate that boosts innovation. The Europe 2020 Strategy sets a clear research and innovation investment goal: 3% of GDP in R&D. One study shows that reaching this target could create up to 3.7 million new jobs and increase annual GDP in Europe by nearly 800 billion Euro by 2025.

The leading knowledge and innovation economies are weathering the economic crisis better. Indeed, there is a strong correlation that can be shown between the economic rebound of Member States in 2010 and their average level of R&D investments over the period 2004-2009. The rule seems to be: the higher the average R&D intensity in the past, the faster the economic growth now.

Horizon 2020’s simplified structure is composed of three distinct, yet mutually reinforcing priorities.

Innovation starts with excellent research. Horizon 2020’s First Pillar is aimed at boosting excellence in Europe’s science base. A proposed investment of over 24 billion Euro will enable the most talented scientists to carry out cutting edge research of the highest quality. We propose doubling to more than 13 billion Euro our support to the spectacularly successful European Research Council, securing the best fundamental research that leads to the greatest innovations.

We also propose to increase to 5.75 billion Euro funding to the Marie Sklodowska Curie actions on researcher training, mobility and careers; while funding for research infrastructures will focus on networking and access, and on maximising the innovation potential of these infrastructures.

The Second Pillar of Horizon 2020 aims to boost industrial leadership, with actions to make Europe a more attractive place for businesses to invest in R&D and innovation. We will invest nearly 18 billion Euro under this pillar.

We propose 13.7 billion Euro in targeted support on the key enabling and industrial technologies that underpin innovation across different industries and sectors. This includes ICT, nanotechnologies, advanced materials, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing processes and space.

We also propose a major strengthening of our support to venture capital and loans for innovative companies with a budget of 3.5 billion euro. Linked to this, we are introducing new support tailored to the needs of innovative SMEs.

The Third Pillar focuses on Tackling Societal Challenges, which will receive nearly 32 billion Euro of funding. It is proposed to focus on the following six challenges: Health, demographic change and wellbeing; Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine research and the bio-economy; Secure, clean and efficient energy; Smart, green and integrated transport; Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials; and, Inclusive, innovative and secure societies.

Horizon 2020 will continue to fund projects on the basis of excellence. It is true that some regions in Europe have not done as well as they could under existing programmes, but we want to close this gap, and it is the combination of EU research funding and structural funds that will do the trick.

The Commission proposals for the new Structural Funds already prioritise research and innovation. Clusters and cluster policies play a vital role in creating a competitive and innovation-based economy. 

The Communication that I intend to launch this June will identify a small number of key issues for immediate action that are crucial for achieving ERA and that will make the biggest impact on the economy.

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