Horizon 2020: an opportunity Europe cannot afford to miss
The 21st of November 2013, the European Parliament approved the Horizon 2020 Research Programme, a €70,2 billion financial instrument designed to be the main implementation tool of “the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness.”, as the European Commission mentions on its website.
Horizon 2020 is designed to promote scientific excellence in Europe and strengthen its industrial position to the world, challenging the challenges the Old Continent faces in the Anthropocene Era.
The programme has three main pillars that will tackle societal challenges (health, energy, transport, climate action, freedom & security research), excellent science (grants for top researchers and investment in new/future technologies and researchers’ training) and industrial leadership (biotechnology, space, access to risk finance, support for innovative small firms) and pays a particular attention to innovative small firms in energy. SME will be supported with a targeted “at least 11% of the Horizon 2020 budget”, while research on non-fossil fuels will be supported with “around €5,4 billion”, according to the European Parliament.
Without any doubt, this is good news for Europe. Researchers and small firms, innovators and entrepreneurs can take advantage of this opportunity set “to open for business” by the 1st of January 2014, after the programme gets approved by the Member States, who have a great responsibility not to lose any time, as there really is no time to lose here. Entering the Anthropocene Era, Europe faces a great unemployment problem affecting great parts of its youth (in some countries youth unemployment exceeds 60%) and a deep democratic legitimacy problem after five years of austerity economics that has caused multiple breakages to social cohesion, resulting to a rising mistrust of Europeans towards EU as a whole. In the same time, it has both the infrastructure and the human resources to invest on a sustainable future that can become a target, a means and a vision, big enough to inspire and mobilize its youth to that direction, and provide with a viable solution to its whole business sector. In that sense, the nature of the Horizon 2020 programme makes it a multi-task tool, designed to provide solutions to multiple social problems, to promote and support innovative entrepreneurship and to boost Europe’s competitiveness (and employment) in the same time.
This is a good moment for Europe; Europeans should learn about it and take advantage of the moment to create a momentum. This momentum has the potential to take them out of their current multi-dimensional crisis and make self-existential nightmares disappear once and for all. Having a great faith in youth, I am absolutely sure that if young Europeans manage to have this message delivered to them in their own language and in/to their own places – through physical campaigns but also social media campaigns and innovative “gamification” tools – they will be transformed to the collective power Europe needs to take it out if its current “misery”. Youth must get motivated to get involved and become the multiplier of Horizon 2020, as Horizon 2020 is designed to be the multiplier of European youth, of European businesses and of Europe as a whole.
Researchers and innovators should get mobilized, start thinking their proposals already.
There is a very wide spectrum of interests and industries covered, as it is becomes visually obvious from the budgetary allocation of funds in this picture published by the European Parliament.
Entrepreneurs and business of any kind should also grab this opportunity and invest the necessary effort, time and resources to explore the brand new possibilities Horizon 2020 opens for them and the future.
The instruments are there to turn ideas into real business, research into products and services. So, start thinking people! On your thoughts, plans and ideas, a sustainable future may rest.
Hopefully, it will prove to be so!