Practices

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Competitive European Regions through Research and Innovation: Practical Guide to EU funding opportunities

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The European Union possesses five key funding opportunities to support research and innovation: the Research Framework Programme, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund within the Cohesion policy; the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Fisheries Fund within the Rural development policy and the Common Fisheries Policy. In 2007 the European Commission published its ideas on ‘Competitive European Regions through Research and Innovation’1 and called on Member States and regions to make more effective use of the available funding instruments. The first edition of the Practical Guide was introduced in 2008 to provide a concise description of the main funding sources in the field of research and innovation. It explained how they can be combined in practice and provided policy makers with advice on setting up mechanisms at the national and regional levels to foster co-ordinated access to them. The Competitiveness Council invited the Commission to continue progressing in this direction, notably by improving, upgrading and expanding the scope of the existing Practical Guide, including the modernisation of the guide as a comprehensive web-based portal on research and innovation. Now a revised version of the Practical Guide is available. This new edition includes a full up-to-date picture of the three sources of funding described in the initial Guide (7th Research Framework Programme, Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and Structural Funds) completed by information on the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and on the European Fisheries Fund. It also focuses on additional funding opportunities in the field of research and innovation. It includes information on the Lifelong learning programme and international cooperation in the field of education and on LIFE + in the field of the environment. It also describes the research and innovation funding opportunities offered to countries and territories beyond the European Union, in the framework of Pre-accession Assistance and within the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.

In an open global economy, competitiveness relies on the capacity of businesses to create high valueadded goods and services. A move towards innovation-based sustainable growth is therefore at the heart of the EU’s response to globalisation. In June 2010, the EU Heads of State and government endorsed the Europe 2020 strategy that aims to get the European economy back on track. At the heart of Europe 2020 is the conviction that we need R&D and innovation to create smart, sustainable growth and get Europe out of the current economic crisis.

Research and innovation can also offer solutions to overcome the great challenges that face our continent and the rest of the world, challenges such as energy security, climate change, environmental degradation, the exclusion of vulnerable groups, the ageing population, global health threats, and demographic developments.

The guide has been produced with the full collaboration and support of our fellow Commissioners Vice-President Mr Kallas (Transport), Vice-President Ms Kroes (Digital Agenda), Mr Andor (Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion), Mr Ciolo (Agriculture and Rural Development), Ms Damanaki (Maritime Affairs and Fisheries), Mr Oettinger (Energy), Mr Rehn (Economic and Monetary Affairs), Ms Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilinguism and Youth), Mr Potočnik (Environment), Mr Füle (Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy) and Mr Piebalgs (Development and Cooperation - EuropAid), who are jointly responsible with us for the funding instruments covered by the guide.

This new Guide provides potential recipients of EU funding for research and innovation with the practical information they need to access this funding. It also provides decision-makers with a full picture of all the funding opportunities available until 2013. The complexity of the present landscape has led us to propose to bring together the full range of research and innovation financing instruments within a common strategic framework under the future multi-annual financial framework. With a common set of simplified rules and procedures and a single set of funding instruments, it offers the potential to make EU funding more effective and increase its impact, while making it easier to access for participants. The common strategic framework for research and innovation, together with revamped structural funds while allow us to swiftly move forward with the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy.