The European Council Tuesday (5 May), approved the roll out of a series of public private partnerships worth up to €22 billion over the next seven years.
The partnerships between the European Union and consortiums of large businesses are targeted at sectors facing “major societal challenges.” They are part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 new €80 billion research and innovation programme for 2014-2020.
Five of them are “joint technology initiatives” to fund large scale, longer-term, riskier research. They will encourage businesses, working with universities, laboratories, SMEs and other organisations, to research riskier new ideas, which, it is hoped, will create economic growth and jobs.
While a bio-based partnership is new, the other four initiatives are revamped versions of previous partnerships. Lawmakers made changes to details of governance and some methods used to improve efficiency.
The five are in the fields of:
- Bio-based industries. Research into ways of turning biomass and waste into fuel, feed, chemical or materials with a view to replacing fossil fuels and helping rural development (website here)
- Aeronautics. The second version of the Clean Sky initiative to reduce the environmental harm caused in the next generation of aircraft
- Electronics. The revamped drive to encourage innovation in electronic components and systems and help new inventions to reach the market more quickly (more here)
- Fuel cells and hydrogen. Supporting research into commercially viable, clean methods of using hydrogen to transport energy and fuel cells to convert energy (more)
- Medicine. Research into new diagnostics and treatments under the second Innovative Medicine Initiative programme (IMI2) (here)
Member states are expected to formally adopt related partnerships on rail transport and air traffic management worth an additional €2 billion in the coming weeks.
The partnerships set out commitments and objectives that must be achieved over the seven years. They will establish their research and innovation agendas and fund projects through competitive calls for proposals.
Joining together the private sector and the public administrations of the EU and its member states will deliver results that individual countries working alone would be unlikely to achieve, the council said.
Another four partnerships are voluntary programmes for member states who wish to pool their resources.
The partnerships involve:
- a programme to help small to medium sized enterprises compete internationally (here)
- a programme to encourage technology to help the elderly (here)
- clinical trials in Africa to help reduce the social and economic burden of poverty-related diseases (here)
- a partnership to boost innovation and competitiveness in metrology, while addressing energy, environment and health challenges (here)
The ECOFIN meeting of EU finance ministers adopted the legal texts laying the groundwork for the partnerships without discussion. Their approval followed an April agreement with the European Parliament.