In Europe research results should be turned into marketable innovations more quickly. As part of its current Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020; 2014-2020), to which Switzerland is associated, the European Union has taken the decision to enhance the funding opportunities available through the European Innovation Council. A high-level delegation from the European Commission today presented the EIC’s funding instruments at an information event in Bern, and set out how Swiss research institutions and businesses can benefit, especially SMEs.
The European Innovation Council was set up at the end of 2017 on a trial basis. In March, the European Commission decided to intensify the pilot phase and set aside a budget of EUR 2 billion for 2019 and 2020. The EIC is currently touring a number of countries to present the enhanced funding opportunities. Switzerland is one of the first stops on the tour. From 2021 the EIC will form one of the three pillars of the next European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon Europe, 2021-2027) and focus on supporting innovation.
The information event in Bern was organised jointly by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and Euresearch, an information and advisory service for Swiss participants in the European framework programmes. Gregor Haefliger, vice director and head of the Research and Innovation division at SERI, welcomed guests from higher education, research, various institutions, interest groups and the private sector. He emphasised that the EU’s framework programmes are the most important source of public funding for research and innovation for Swiss firms, particularly for SMEs. The EU delegation was led by Wolfang Burtscher, deputy director of the Directorate General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission.
Global competition and the use of new technologies are increasing. If companies want to hold their own in the markets, they have to be innovative and be willingness to take risks. The European Innovation Council brings together the main EU instruments to promote innovation. The spectrum ranges from support for innovative technology research and market-oriented project funding to the provision of risk finance instruments. The aim is to ensure that innovations reach the market faster and thereby generate more growth and employment.