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The Knowledge-Sharing Platform

15 Jun 2018

EC discusses Horizon Europe proposal with Austrian R&I community

from left: Deputy DG Wolfgang Burtscher (EC), Harald Mahrer (President Austrian Economic Chambers), Henrietta Egerth (Managing Director, FFG), Heinz Faßmann (Austrian Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research), by FFG / Martin Lusser

Wolfgang Burtscher, Deputy Director General of the European Commission's (EC) DG Research and Innovation, was in Vienna yesterday, 14 June 2018, to discuss the EC's Horizon Europe proposal with Austrian research and innovation stakeholders. It was the first such event in an EU Member State, given that Austria is due to take over the EU Council Presidency in about two weeks, and that a crucial phase of the negotiations on Horizon Europe, the 9th EU Research Framework Programme, will take place under the Austrian Presidency.

At a press conference preceding the event, Mr. Burtscher and the Austrian Minister for Education, Science and Research Heinz Faßmann, the President of the Austrian Economic Chambers (WKO) Harald Mahrer, and the Managing Director of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) Henrietta Egerth highlighted the challenging task lying ahead for Austria during its presidency during this period.

Minister Faßmann confirmed that Austria aims at advancing the negotiations on "Horizon Europe" as far as possible, applauding the focus the EC has put on research and innovation in the new Multiannual Financial Framewor (MFF, 2021-2027). He also called for better using synergies between different programmes, in particular between the Framework Programme and the Structural Funds, but also with Erasmus or the Common Agricultural Policy. The minister highlighted the fact that the next Framework Programme will focus on areas of our daily lives such as the fight against cancer, clean transport or plastic-free oceans.

Deputy DG Burtscher called "Horizon Europe" a successful mixture of tried-and-tested and new elements and stressed the importance of research and innovation for the future of Europe. He said he hoped that the upcoming negotiations with the Council and the European Parliament would result in a "generous budget" for research and innovaion. The proposed funding measures include tried-and-tested instruments such as ERC and Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions, but also novelties such as mission-oriented research or the European Innovation Council (EIC). Mr. Burtscher considers the EIC of crucial importance for impact-oriented research and for bridging the "valley of death".

WKO President Mahrer called for implementing the principle that "innovation rules" consistently in the economic policy agenda, highlighting the important leverage effect of the Framework Programme for supporting prosperity and growth, and in particular the participation of the business sector. This would benefit small and large enterprises alike, as well as society as a whole. He has high expectations for Austria's participation in "Horizon Europe", hoping for more than € 2 billion for Austria, of which € 800 million should go to Austrian enterprises.

FFG Managing Director Egerth said from FFG's perspective, it is crucial that "Horizon Europe" funds all areas ranging from basic research to disruptive innovation, as well as addressing key technologies and digitalisation - Horizon Europe needs to be closely related to the "Digital Europe" programme to meet digital challenges. She regards the EIC as "an opportunity to close the much-lamented gap in Europe between laboratories and the market". She also highlighted the further simplifications provided for application and management of projects in the EC's proposal. 

The press conference also announced the "Overview Report on Austria in Horizon 2020" which was then presented in detail at the event following the press conference. According to the report, which was prepared by FFG's EU Performance Monitoring on behalf of the contracting ministries, Austria's researchers and enterprises have performed above average in Horizon 2020. In ERC, ICT, and TRANSPORT Austria has already received more than € 100 million of return flows of funds.

For more information:

BMBWF - press release (in German)

FFG - press release (in German)

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