Prospects for more EU-funded research projects at Birmingham and Warwick universities have been boosted after MEPs and national ministers in Brussels agreed a £60 billion deal for a new EU research and innovation programme "Horizon 2020".
Over the past five years, the current EU framework programme (known as FP7) has brought EUR 3.73 billion in science funding to the UK, supporting cutting-edge research in areas such as stem-cell therapy, clean energy and nano-technology.
Projects recently funded by the EU include a number of based at Warwick and Birmingham universities, including EUR 5.77 million to support pioneering research on the early detection, prevention and improved treatment of chronic arthritis at Birmingham.
The deal comes as the governments are close to agreeing a new long term EU budget which increases spending on competitiveness and growth, including research and capital projects, by 37%, though the overall budget will fall by 3%. British universities have won a large share of contracts in the previous EU research budget and look set to be big winners in the Horizon 2020 programme, which will boost local jobs.
Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion said:
"This EU research deal is great news not only for Birmingham University and other local universities, but will also boost the economy and jobs in the West Midlands region. Horizon 2020 will see 70 billion euros spent on cutting edge research across the EU up to 2020.
"Economic growth and job creation are both driven by innovations from scientific research, both for manufacturing and in areas like health care.
"Arthritis costs our economy billions by keeping people otherwise healthy and vigorous away from productive employment and Birmingham is leading the research effort to tackle it.
"The Lib Dems in government and in Brussels have consistently backed research as it is an area where money from the EU can make a real difference and add value. EU research funding and the cooperation that it brings has been hugely beneficial to the UK.
"The Horizon 2020 deal should mean that Birmingham University should continue to get substantial long term EU funding help in future projects to boost its growing reputation as a hub for global quality research.
"Research of this quality drives innovation and acts as a magnet for inward investment, vital in boosting our local economy and creating local jobs.
"I hope this agreement will be formally approved by ministers and the European Parliament as soon as possible."
The deal still has to be approved by EU Member States and the Parliament's plenary and is subject to the EU's long term budget before it can come into force.
Note: EU research funding example - The EURO-TEAM research project at Birmingham University.
Towards Early diagnosis and biomarker validation in Arthritis Management: The EURO-TEAM research project at Birmingham University is designed to identify ways of preventing chronic inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis. Preventive strategies and therapies require the identifications of 'Biomarkers' that can be used to predict an individual's risk of developing the condition and the identification of 'modifiable disease mechanisms' which can later be used to improve prevention and treatment. Total cost: EUR 7 609 029 EU contribution: EUR 5 777 374
For more details see: http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/index.cfm?fuseaction=app.details&TXT=%22EURO-TEAM%22&FRM=1&STP=10&SIC=&PGA=&CCY=&PCY=&SRC=&LNG=en&REF=105516
The Horizon 2020 deal has three 'pillars'.
The first pillar 'Excellence in the science base' aims to strengthen the EU's world-class excellence in science, particularly through a significant strengthening of the European Research Council, which mainly focuses on frontier research.
The second pillar 'Creating industrial leadership and competitive frameworks' aims to support business research and innovation. Actions will cover: increasing investment in enabling industrial technologies and support for innovation in SMEs with high growth potential.
The third pillar 'Tackling societal challenges' aims to respond directly to challenges identified in Europe 2020. Its focus will be on the challenges of: health, demographic change and well-being; food security and the bio-based economy; energy; transport; supply of raw materials; resource efficiency and climate action; inclusive, innovative and secure societies.