Geoghegan-Quinn urges industry to apply for EU research funding

‘Low-bureaucracy’ €80bn Horizon scheme to fund high-tech, science and business projects

President Michael D Higgins and EU Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European commissioner for research, innovation and science, after writing what inspires them at the Coimbra conference at NUI Galway. President Higgins wrote: “Good company”; and Ms Geoghegan-Quinn wrote: “Family”.  Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

President Michael D Higgins and EU Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European commissioner for research, innovation and science, after writing what inspires them at the Coimbra conference at NUI Galway. President Higgins wrote: “Good company”; and Ms Geoghegan-Quinn wrote: “Family”. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

 

EU commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has said she wants industry back involved in applying for European research and innovation funding.

Bureaucracy is to be kept to a minimum in the new Horizon 2020 framework, an €80 billion programme for which she is responsible as commissioner for research, science and innovation.

The programme should be as appealing to small and medium-sized enterprises as to the scientific community, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn said in Galway.

“For me, the single most important element of it is its simplification,” she said.

Some €24 billion of Horizon’s 2020’s €80 billion package is earmarked for scientific research, while almost €20 billion will be allocated to investment in key technologies, greater access to capital and support for SMEs.

The balance aims to fund research into “major concerns” such as climate change, developing sustainable transport and mobility, making renewable energy more affordable, ensuring food safety and security, and coping with the challenge of an ageing population.

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn was in Galway with fellow EU commissioner for maritime affairs Maria Damanaki to witness the signing of a new Atlantic ocean research charter by the US, Canada and five European states including Ireland.

Climate change research, mapping critical areas of the Atlantic seafloor, improvements in ocean observation and weather forecasting, and identifying future “ocean literacy” initiatives are among the areas which the seven Atlantic coastal states will work on under the new “Galway statement on Atlantic Ocean co-operation”.

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn said the enormous economic potential of the Atlantic remained largely untapped and noted that we “probably know more about the surface of the Moon and Mars than we do about the deep sea floor”.

“The ocean is the next frontier, and this alliance can make a big contribution to meeting challenges such as climate change and food security,”she said.

The charter signing during the Irish EU presidency was a “fantastic coup” for Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney, she said.

Ms Damanaki said the new Galway agreement fully supported the EU’s new Atlantic Action Plan, put forward this month, and was open to researchers from all over Europe.

The EU Atlantic Action Plan aims to show how the EU’s Atlantic member states, their regions and the European Commission can develop the “blue economy” and provide seven million jobs in Europe by 2020, using funds from the European Investment Bank and private sector.

Ireland’s own ocean wealth plan aims to increase the turnover of Ireland’s “blue economy” to over €6.4 billion by 2020 and to double the GDP contribution by 2030 to 2.4 per cent.


l A €5 million investment package and €1.6 million in grant aid for Ireland’s fisheries sector has been announced by Mr Coveney. The funding will apply to some 150 environmental and conservation initiatives, and may apply to over 1,000 vessels.

A grant scheme for young fishermen was also approved as part of the package.