The new EU funding programme for Research and Innovation «Horizon 2020» running from 2014 to 2020 with a €80 billion budget was presented here on Thursday by the Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Marie Geoghegan-Quinn.
Speaking at the Official Launch of «Horizon 2020» in Cyprus, in the presence of Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Zeta Emilianidou, the Commissioner noted that the programme presents huge opportunities for Cyprus, adding that research and innovation could be a tool to halt the financial crisis through the development of innovative products and services and job creation.
The key is the collaboration between business and academia, she said. “We need them working hand in hand if we are going to develop positive economic results”.
«With nearly 80 billion Euro in funding over seven years», she said, «Horizon 2020 is one of the few areas of the EU’s new budget that sees a major increase in resources».
As she said, “Horizon 2020 will fund not just the best fundamental research, but also applied research and innovation, bringing in small and large companies. This is absolutely vital because we know that research and innovation mean growth and jobs».
The Commissioner stressed the fact that the procedures of participation have been simplified with the new program, while many opportunities to participate are given to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“From the start of my mandate, it has been my top priority to make it easier for our scientists and business people to access EU funding so they can spend less time on administration and more on research and innovation», she said, adding that «we are counting on Europe’s scientists to produce excellent research that will underpin both the answers to societal challenges and the innovation that is vital to our economy».
Horizon 2020, she pointed out, is very good for business. «I was determined from the outset to get more companies participating in European research and innovation projects. I hope that many more Cypriot companies will take the bait ».
Marie Geoghegan-Quinn said that the new SME instrument and the new financing options in the form of risk-sharing (through guarantees) or risk finance (through loans and equity) to support innovative companies could be especially interesting for Cyprus.
She encouraged those in Cyprus who would apply to the program to seek «to maximise opportunities in new areas of research and innovation such as the emerging energy sector, including solar energy and newly found natural gas reserves».
In her address to the event, Labour Minister said, inter alia, that «Horizon 2020» can contribute significantly to improving the competitiveness of the European economy and give an immediate stimulus towards growth both in the EU as a whole, and in each member state separately».
«It will help greatly in strengthening the scientific and technological base, promoting excellence and industrial competitiveness for the future. The main objective is to enhance economic growth and employment in Europe», she added.
As she said, «it is certainly appreciated by all of us how important this goal is for Cyprus, in this difficult environment of economic crisis that is currently going through. The redefining of the needs and the vision for the development of Cyprus of the 21st century will undoubtedly need to invest in the new knowledge economy and information society ».
The government is in the process of redefining the overall strategy and policies for research and innovation, she added.
On his part, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Research Promotion Foundation said in his speech that “Horizon 2020” is a huge investment for Europe and a key instrument of the EU to address critical challenges such as creating jobs, promoting innovation and enhancing competitiveness in the global knowledge economy.
He also said that “European projects provide great opportunities for absorption of funds for research since financial resources at national level are extremely limited – especially this period – and it is impossible to include provisions of similar size in the government budget”.
Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou addressed the event through a video message.
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