On 23 November 2016, the EC presented new measures that are supposed to help bring more countries to the map of research excellence.
The Commission’s actions range from financing new knowledge centres to facilitating structural reforms that will enable more synergies between different funding sources. These actions will be rolled out during the last three years of Horizon 2020, which is the EU's research and innovation funding programme that runs until 2020.
The Commission announced that it has selected for funding ten new knowledge centres that will be set up with €140 million from Horizon 2020. This is meant to help increase scientific excellence in nine countries, which are currently under-performing in research and innovation (R&I). Each project will be allocated a maximum €15 million from the Teaming instrument under Horizon 2020, which is designed to facilitate institution building ineligible countries in close cooperation with Europe's leading scientific and innovation powerhouses. The European Commission expects the overall budget for these measures to increase during the last three years of Horizon 2020.
The Commission wishes to enable more researchers to develop and bring to market their innovative ideas. Thus far, the Seal of Excellence, which acts as a quality certificate issued by the Commission to first class R&I projects, has allowed companies get financing from alternative public and private sources if their projects were not funded due to budget constraints in the Horizon 2020 calls for small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs).
Additionally, three high-quality Teaming proposals not funded now under the available call budget are awarded the Seal for possible alternative funding. Another change introduced by the Commission is that key topics where researchers from less performing countries can lead in R&I excellence will be better identified and reflected in the next Horizon 2020 calls.
All the above-mentioned measures are meant to complement existing Commission initiatives to address the innovation divide, such as the actions under the 'Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation' part of Horizon 2020 and the extensive financial support for research and innovation from the Structural Funds.
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