The European Commission (EC) presented details of a new €100 million “Fast Track to Innovation” (FTI) pilot action and five innovation prizes under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s €80 billion research and innovation programme. The FTI aims to support Europe’s economy by offering innovative businesses and organisations grants to give a final push to get great ideas to market. The prizes offer a reward for technological breakthroughs of high societal relevance. The initiatives underscore the drive to support innovation in Europe as part of the first, two-year Horizon 2020 work programme. The announcement also confirms the €7 billion for Horizon 2020 calls during 2015 and sets out the timetable for applications, informed the EC’s press center.
European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “The response to the first Horizon 2020 calls has been enormous, with more than 17,000 proposals already submitted. I am impressed by the clear rise in industry interest, particularly from small businesses. Today we are firing the starting gun on the 2015 calls and I am confident they will meet equally strong demand. The Fast Track to Innovation and the new prizes will provide even more opportunities for innovators across Europe to get involved. With these measures we are contributing to increase Europe’s competitiveness and create growth and jobs.”
The Fast Track to Innovation scheme will be open to applications from January 2015. It will support small consortia of three to five organisations with strong business participation to give promising ideas the last push before entering the market. It is open to ideas in any area of technology or application and to any legal entity established in the EU or in a country associated to Horizon 2020.
The contests for the five innovation prizes will start in late 2014 and early 2015. The prizes, worth €6 million in 2015, cover three different thematic areas of research: health (“Reduction of the Use of Antibiotics Prize”, “Food-Scanner Prize”), the environment (“Reduction of Air Pollution Prize”) and ICT (“Collaborative Sharing of Spectrum”, “Optical Transmission Prize”).