Research & Innovation

Why is this topic a priority for the EU?

Europe faces significant social, environmental and economic challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Research and innovation is essential in addressing these challenges and supporting the EU’s recovery from the pandemic. Cooperation and investment in research and innovation will also facilitate and speed up Europe’s digital and green transitions. 

With only 7% of the world's population, Europe accounts for 20% of global research and development investment, produces one third of all high-quality scientific publications, and holds a world leading position in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, mechanical engineering and fashion. Now more than ever, the European Commission is committed to keeping the EU at the forefront of global research and innovation. 

More than 50% of the total amount of the EU’s 2021-2027 budget and its temporary recovery instrument NextGenerationEU will support the modernisation of the European Union through research and innovation; fair climate and digital transitions; preparedness, and recovery and resilience.

The European Commission provides support and funding for research and innovation through various initiatives and funding instruments. These include the Horizon Europe programme, the European Research Area, and the European Research and Innovation Days.

Relevant EU Policies and Objectives

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is the EU’s funding programme for research and innovation for 2021-2027. With a budget of €95 billion, it will be the world’s most ambitious research and innovation programme. Horizon Europe aims to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and boost the EU’s competitiveness and growth.

Key Points:

  • Over 35% of Horizon Europe spending will contribute to climate objectives
  • The programme’s three implementation pillars are Excellent Science, Global Challenges, and Innovative Europe
  • Its European Partnerships element encourages participation from both the public and private sectors in areas such as energy, transport, biodiversity, health, food and circularity.

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations?

Horizon Europe will provide opportunities for civil society organisations to access funding to engage in activities which address the programme’s objectives. With a strong focus on engaged research, the programme’s Global Challenges Pillar will be of particular interest to the Irish nonprofit community. Civil society organisations will be able to access these funding streams through various calls for tenders and proposals throughout the 2021-2027 EU budget period.  

In order to increase the research and innovation impact, Horizon Europe will also have synergies with other EU funding programmes like Erasmus+ and Digital Europe. This cross-programme interaction aims to promote faster dissemination and uptake of research and innovation results.

European Research Area

The European Research Area (ERA) is a single, borderless market for research, innovation and technology across the EU.  Its aim is to improve Europe's research and innovation landscape, accelerate the EU's transition towards climate neutrality and digital leadership, support its recovery from COVID-19, and strengthen its resilience against future crises.

Key Points:

  • The ERA was launched in 2000 and in 2020 the European Commission published its plan for relaunching it with revised policy priorities
  • The new ERA will aim to strengthen researchers' mobility and enhance cooperation among universities, business and other research and innovation actors
  • The new ERA will develop concrete plans with Member States to promote gender equality, as well as diversity and inclusiveness, in science, research and innovation.

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations?

The new European Research Area promotes participatory science which will provide opportunities for civil society organisations to be involved in engaged research about issues impacting their communities. 

The new ERA will also develop a roadmap of actions for collaborations between higher education institutions and research. In addition, the ERA will make research and innovation more accessible to all EU citizens through events like citizen science campaigns and hackathons. 

European Research and Innovation Days

European Research and Innovation Days is the European Commission’s annual flagship Research and Innovation event. The two-day event provides an opportunity to gather input from policy makers, stakeholders and citizens on how research and innovation policy and funding can deliver on European priorities.

Key Points:

  • The European Research and Innovations Days was launched in 2019
  • 2021’s event will take place virtually on 23 and 24 June and focus on Horizon Europe and the new European Research Area objectives
  • 2020’s online event attracted over 35000 registered participants from 188 countries in 146 panels.

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations?

Civil society organisations can register to attend the European Research and Innovations Days through the event’s website. The event provides a unique opportunity for organisations to add their voice to the conversation through various interactive elements including social media platforms. 

Useful Links

Horizon Europe Factsheet

Horizon Europe

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