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Commission fires starting gun for 2015 Horizon 2020 calls

The European Commission has presented the Horizon 2020 calls for 2015, including a new ‘Fast Track to Innovation’ (FTI) pilot action and five innovation prizes.

Adopted in late July, the updated 2014-2015 Horizon 2020 Work Programme confirms the amounts for the actions to be implemented through next year's budget. The programme also presents the new FTI pilot action which aims to offer innovative businesses and organisations grants to give a final push to get great ideas to market. It will be open to applications from January 2015 and will support small consortia of three to five organisations. Actions funded under the pilot are to be ‘business-driven’. Therefore, substantial industry involvement in FTI actions will be mandatory to ensure quick market take-up. ‘Quick’ is defined as within a three-year period after the start of the FTI-action. Another ‘added extra’ next year is the new innovation prizes to reward technological breakthroughs of high societal relevance. The prizes, worth EUR 6 million in 2015, will start in late 2014 and early 2015. They cover three different thematic areas of research: health (‘Reduction of the Use of Antibiotics Prize’, ‘Food-Scanner Prize’), the environment (‘Reduction of Air Pollution Prize’) and ICT (‘Collaborative Sharing of Spectrum’, ‘Optical Transmission Prize’). Prize money ranges between EUR .5 million and EUR 3 million. Speaking after the adoption of the Work Programme, European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said, ‘Today we are firing the starting gun on the 2015 calls and I am confident they will meet equally strong demand [as the first Horizon 2020 calls]. The Fast Track to Innovation and the new prizes will provide even more opportunities for innovators across Europe to get involved. With these measures we are contributing to increase Europe's competitiveness and create growth and jobs.’ More than 17 000 proposals have already been submitted for the first Horizon 2020 calls, announced in December of last year. The demand actually outweighs the available funding nine times over. This marks an increase from the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) and a higher level of competition. The Commission has noted a particular increase in applications from industry. For example, business applications to the ‘industrial leadership’ and ‘societal challenges’ pillars of Horizon representing 44 percent of the total compared with 30 percent under comparable areas of FP7. SME participation is particularly strong, with over 5 500 SME applications to the Horizon calls on encouraging leadership in enabling and industrial technologies and nearly 2 700 applications for funding under the new EUR 3 billion SME Instrument. EUR 7 billion is allocated to Horizon 2020 calls during 2015 and the timetable is set. All funding opportunities under Horizon 2020 are accessible from the participant portal .For further information, please visit: