Climate change, energy, health and SMEs will form the centre of European Commission proposals for research funding within the new Common Strategic Framework (CSF), which will be renamed today (10 June) at a 700-strong stakeholder event.
The CSF will follow on from the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) after it expires in 2013, but the new funding pool will be the subject of heated debate as the Commission mulls over a White Paper to be released later this year.
The White Paper will outline how the research budget should be allocated under the new programme, which will roll together several existing structural and cohesion funding mechanisms under a common umbrella.
University associations, national research institutions, government officials and business leaders will all mingle at the conference, during which in the Commission will unveil the new name of the programme after holding an open competition to settle the matter earlier in the year.
Direction: Climate, health, energy, SMEs
European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn will also outline the Commission’s response to hundreds of submissions it has received following the publication of a consultation paper on the CSF earlier this year.
Officials said that a new innovation competitiveness report issued by the EU executive this week (8 June) highlighted the direction that the Commission would take on the CSF.
The report found that education systems needed to be adapted to business innovation needs, SMEs needed more encouragement, and that more research was needed to tackle climate change and to reduce the gender gap in science.
It found that business investment – as opposed to state funding – of research was a key weakness in Europe, where half as much private sector cash was spent than in South Korea and Japan.
A source in the EU executive said the report's findings would echo today's Commission priorities for the new framework programme. He added: "What EU citizens want is for the EU to tackle the grand challenges including health, energy, SMEs and climate change. That's what they want the EU funding to do."
Cut back red tape, inefficiency
The CSF will attempt to avoid the inefficiencies of the current programme.
On Wednesday, MEPs adopted a resolution on the mid-term review of FP7, noting that complexity of administrative management, red tape, lack of transparency and unjustified delays remain major handicaps.
The resolution said the Commission and EU member states should push harder for co-operation and co-ordination between the various EU and national funding programmes.