ICT: EU seeks Med partners for Horizon 2020 program

72 billion euros for research and innovation, to run for 7 years

02 April, 18:01

    (ANSAmed) - BEIRUT, APRIL 2 -Some 72 billion euros will be available in EU funding for research and innovation in the information and communication technology sector for the next seven years as part of the Horizon 2020 program, 17 billion more than in the previous one.

    Enterprises and universities in the Middle East and North Africa will also be able to benefit from the program by working with European partners. The initiative and how to access the funding will be illustrated over the coming months in a series of meetings underway in several Middle Eastern countries as part of the EU's Med-Dialogue initiative. Thies Wittig, German IT expert who conducted the two-day event in Beirut, explained why submitting candidatures to join with European partners was worth the effort by saying that ''it will increase your scientific experience, because an intercultural experience is priceless and because it is fun''. Similar presentations are scheduled to take place prior to the end of May in Algiers, Tunis, Fes, Cairo and Ramallah. Horizon 2020 is the largest program ever conducted by the EU for ICT research and innovation and features a 25% increase in investment over a similar program, the FP7, which ran from 2007 to 2013. Both enterprises and universities will be able to take part in the EU call for proposals to participate in a consortium that includes at least three European partners, each of which from a different EU nation. ''The level of competition,'' Wittig underscored, ''is the same as the FP7 program, with a 15% percentage of success.'' However, unlike the previous seven-year program, purely academic consortia - i.e. research centers - will not be admitted. Every consortium will have to include at least one enterprise, with a focus on SMEs, ''which the European Commission wanted to concentrate on'', said Wittig. Another important difference from the FP7 is the fact the sector that will enjoy higher financing (43% of the total) is that of ''social challenges'': health, food, energy efficiency, lower carbon footprints, environmentally friendly and intelligent transport, and societal inclusiveness and security.

    The budget for these sections will be double that allocated to them in the FP7. Wittig also underscored that the European Commission had promised to speed up procedures for the selection of candidates and the streamlining of bureaucratic processes - including those for expense reimbursement - with a ''new balance between trust and control''. ''Be more active,'' is the message Wittig conveyed to the enterprises and universities of Mediterranean partner countries, saying that ''European enterprises want to come to this region, but they need partners.'' (ANSAmed).

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