Circa €200 million has been earmarked specifically for marine research and innovation in the first two years (2014/2015) of the EU's seven year Horizon 2020 programme (2014-2020). In addition, significant other funding opportunities for marine research and innovation exist under the various generic headings (i.e. food, transport, energy, environment, climate change, security, etc.).
The €80 billion Horizon 2020 programme (2014-2020) was officially launched in the Dublin Convention Centre on 10th December by EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Maire Geoghegan Quinn and Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock, TD. An audience of over 2,000 participants heard that more than €15 billion (18%) of the €80 billion budget would be allocated over the first two years. This funding is intended to help boost Europe's knowledge-driven economy, and tackle issues that will make a difference in people's lives. European Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "It's time to get down to business. Horizon 2020 funding is vital for the future of research and innovation in Europe, and will contribute to growth, jobs and a better quality of life. We have designed Horizon 2020 to produce results, and we have slashed red tape to make it easier to participate. So I am calling on researchers, universities, businesses including SMEs, and others to sign up!"
Welcoming the announcement, Dr Peter Heffernan (CEO, Marine Institute) pointed out that "over the period (2007-2013), Irish marine researchers, including SMEs, participated in 127 successful FP7 projects spanning a number of Thematic Priorities (e.g. Food, Transport, Energy, Environment, etc., bringing in EU grant aid of €48 million, adding value to national research and innovation expenditure and creating circa 200 contract research positions. With Blue Growth a prioritised focal area in Horizon 2020, we expect to significantly top this between 2014 and 2020".
The Commission has identified funding priorities over the first two years (2014-2015) providing researchers and businesses with more certainty than ever before on the direction of EU research policy. Calls from the 2014 budget are already open for submissions with more to follow over the course of the year. Calls in the 2014 budget alone are worth around €7.8 billion, with funding focused on the three key pillars of Horizon 2020:
Societal challenges: €2.8 billion for innovative projects addressing Horizon 2020's seven societal challenges, broadly: health; agriculture, maritime and bioeconomy; energy; transport; climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials; reflective societies; and security.
Industrial Leadership: €1.8 billion to support Europe's industrial leadership in areas like ICT, nanotechnologies, advanced manufacturing, robotics, biotechnologies and space.
Excellent Science: Around €3 billion, including €1.7 billion for grants from the European Research Council for top scientists and €800 million for Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships for younger researchers.