Tapping into a billion euro opportunity
The EU has issued a €1bn call for research and innovation projects that address the climate crisis and help protect ecosystems
Garrett Murray, national director for Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland. “There is something there for everyone, and Irish companies need to be aware of the opportunities which exist to collaborate with the research community and avail of funding under this call”
The European Commission has issued a €1 billion call for research and innovation projects that address the climate crisis and help protect Europe’s ecosystems and biodiversity.
The investment is aimed at accelerating a just and sustainable transition to a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. Another objective of the Horizon 2020-funded European Green Deal call is to boot Europe’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis by turning green challenges into innovation opportunities.
This Green Deal call differs in important aspects from previous Horizon 2020 calls, says Garrett Murray, national director for Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland. There are fewer but more targeted larger and visible actions, with a focus on rapid scalability, dissemination and uptake.
“The projects funded under this call are expected to deliver results with tangible benefits in a number of key areas, including clean and affordable energy, industry for a clean and circular economy, energy and resource efficient buildings, sustainable and smart mobility, sustainable food production, and biodiversity,” says Murray.
In order to highlight the opportunities presented to Irish companies by this call the Enterprise Europe Network in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, Invest NI and Northern Ireland National Contract Points held an international partnering event on the Green Deal earlier this month.
The free one-day virtual event attracted almost 2,500 companies and research organisations from across Europe and beyond, and presented insights from the European Commission as well as offering a unique international networking experience to help companies forge partnerships for the future.
“The EU Green Deal underpins EU philosophy around climate change,” says Murray. “It’s starting objective is a sustainable transition to a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. This is the first call to reach out to innovators and researchers in area specifically related to climate change. The call is designed to bring researchers together to collaborate on meeting those challenges.
“As we know from experience when we come together and collaborate, we achieve far more than we can individually.”
While open to participants from across Europe, the Horizon 2020 Virtual Brokerage Event was mainly aimed at bringing the call to the attention of a wider Irish audience. “We want to encourage Irish companies to engage with innovative companies and research groups across Europe,” says Murray.
The all-island event saw Enterprise Ireland reach out to other European enterprise networks across Europe to invite them to participate in the conference and brokerage activities.
Murray says that, once registered, participants could express an interest in discussing opportunities with other companies or research organisations, or of availing of specific market opportunities which were listed on the website for the event.
“We had more than 1,450 market opportunities listed on the site in advance of the event. Over 2,500 people from 46 countries took part in 3,600 formal meetings over the two days. There were lots more informal engagements as well.
“One of the things Covid-19 has taught us is that we can use virtual formats to hold events like this very successfully. The Irish European Enterprise Network contact point can facilitate other pan-European events like this, and that will probably drive a change in our approach to these things post-Covid-19.”
Another change he hopes to see is the mindset in relation to green research.
“When they are talking about the Green Deal people can be tempted to box it off into one particular area, but the green agenda covers a wide array of areas, including farming, food, transport, the competitiveness of industry and so on.
“There is something there for everyone, and Irish companies need to be aware of the opportunities which exist to collaborate with the research community and avail of funding under this call.”
Citizen engagement is a crucially important aspect of the call, he adds.
“The Green Deal has to meet the needs of the citizens of Europe, and the call is taking a citizen-centric approach. The social sciences will have an important role to play in research projects.
“We have to engage with communities and users to make sure products and solutions developed under the call will be adopted by citizens. This is quite a new approach.”
And this call is just the beginning.
“The deadline for submissions under the European Green Deal call is January 26th, 2021, but Horizon Europe, the follow-on programme to Horizon 2020, also contains specific measures in terms of climate neutrality,” says Murray. “All of the areas covered by the Green Deal call will continue as priorities.
“I would encourage all actors, researchers, SMEs, multinational companies and others to engage with us to identify opportunities for funding, and to bring in other partners from across the EU and beyond.”
Further details of the Horizon 2020 Green Deal call can be found at horizon2020.ie