Midlands universities and businesses urged to apply for new EU funding

The European Commission has announced that from today, universities and businesses across the UK can apply for £12.5 billion worth of European funding in the first round of the EU’s latest research programme.

The new EU framework, Horizon 2020, is the world’s largest research programme with a budget of more than £65 billion over the next seven years, up by about a third on the previous budget.

Applications open today for the first round covering 2014 and 2015. Priority areas for grants in this tranche include energy efficiency, digital security and healthcare.

UK universities were particularly successful at accessing funding under the current ‘FP7’ framework, receiving more than higher education institutions in any other EU country. The UK received almost £4 billion of EU research funding since 2007.

The University of Birmingham has led the way in the West Midlands region receiving 115 million euros for 276 research projects under FP7. Warwick University has received 70 million euros for 139 projects, with Aston, Keele and Coventry also receiving millions of euros. In total, the West Midlands region won grants of around £250 million from 2007 to 2013.

County and West Midlands Liberal Democrat MEP Phil Bennion commented: “Already EU research grants bring huge benefits to the economy in the West Midlands, funding innovation in production techniques for manufacturing, especially the motor industry and cutting edge medical research too. This support has created and sustained many jobs from JLR downwards.

“The new Horizon 2020 programme has billions more available than before – applications for the first tranche of grants worth £12.5 billion opened today. It is important that local universities and businesses in Birmingham and the West Midlands region are made aware and take full advantage.

“These grants have a massive multiplier effect. Every £1 of EU research spend leads to an estimated £11 of added value to industry.

“Small business also stands to benefit from a new separate funding line worth £2.2 billion pushed for by the Liberal Democrats, with simpler rules for funding applications.”