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  • How is European funding adapting to COVID-19?

    by Myriam de Cabo & Alba Saldaña | Apr 23, 2020 | Reading time: 5 minutes | Blog

     

    The COVID-19 crisis is becoming a real challenge for Europe. In just a few months, this virus has reached all the EU member countries and it has compromised the management of the healthcare systems all over the European territory.

    European states work actively to fight this threat. Their final objectives are the limitation of virus spread and the guarantee to provide medical equipment. To achieve these, Europe is developing specific economic guidelines to overcome the coronavirus outbreak.

    EU member countries are aware of how important it is to act urgently to stop this crisis. Because of that, the European Commission has coordinated a common response to reinforce the protection of public health, mobility, economy, and investigation. Furthermore, a new platform has been set up in order to find solutions against coronavirus among all the European countries. This proposal, called “Care & Industry together against CORONA”, offers the opportunity of bringing together different actors in healthcare, industry, academia, and government through its online platform. In this way, professional interaction will be fostered to share knowledge and approaches that tackle the COVID-19 situation.

    To mitigate the negative economic impact, specific measures are being taken to alleviate coronavirus effects in the business community. Some of these measures include guidelines for improving European R&D funding during the coronavirus outbreak.

     

    Europe and COVID-19: Boosting and supporting R&D projects

    The European Union is aware that R&D is a powerful tool to stop the coronavirus emergency situation. More specifically, supporting industries like healthcare innovation could be the key to a faster resolution of this crisis. For this reason, the European Commission has proposed a series of measures for this particular sector.

    Horizon 2020

    Among the Horizon 2020 program objectives, we can find “investment in healthcare for a better diagnosis” and “treatment of contagious diseases”. That is the reason why some specific measures have been taken to support the achievement of these goals.

    Last January, 10 million euros were mobilized for COVID-19 research from Horizon 2020. This first measure aimed to promote innovative projects focused on the study of the pandemic that was beginning to emerge. In March, when the virus started to spread more and more in Europe, new action was taken in relation to R&D funding

    To this day, the European Commission has already allocated over 140 million euros through Horizon 2020 to promote coronavirus research. In this way, Horizon 2020 will support 18 projects with 48,5 million euros in funding.

    These projects pursue four objectives:

    • Improving epidemiology and public health, including the preparedness and response to outbreaks such as COVID-19.
    • Developing rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests.
    • Accelerating the development of new treatments and identifying molecules that could work against the virus.
    • Promoting the creation of vaccines to prevent and treat coronavirus.

    On one hand, in order to ensure more participation, Horizon 2020 decided to extend the deadline dates for its applications. This action resulted in a record number of received proposals in the EIC Accelerator (almost 4000). On the other hand, the European Commission has allocated up to 90 million euros to the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), out of which, 45 million came from Horizon 2020’s budget. Thanks to it, IMI made a call for projects to develop treatments and diagnostics to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

    Eureka

    It is also interesting the call for solutions for COVID-19 made by Eureka. Companies from different technological fields are welcome to apply as long as its projects aim to eradicate COVID-19 and its effects. The objectives of these projects can be diverse: infection prevention, vaccines, smart technology for COVID-19 patients, safe mobility…

    Due to the urgent need of getting results as quickly as possible, the application process will be more flexible than usual. Its deadline will be open until the 15th of May and the Eureka funding decision will be communicated by the 30th of June. 

    In order to make it easier, the organization is fully committed to starting the evaluation of projects as they are received. This evaluation process will stimulate the creation of new solutions to mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak, as a rapid implementation for these projects will be required (between 6 and 12 months).

    Hackaton: #EUvsVirus

    As an addition to these finance initiatives, new alternatives appear to develop more innovation projects. This is the case of the #EUvsVirus Hackathon, which will take place between April 24th and 26th. This online event is a call to action to all of those who can fight against coronavirus: experts, academics, innovation employers, developers, creators, entrepreneurs…

    With such diverse participation, this hackathon ensures the connection between civil society, innovators, and entrepreneurs from different European countries. In that way, these professionals will have the opportunity to present their projects and ideas to beat coronavirus.

    Participants will build innovative solutions to tackle the hackathon challenges: Health & Life, Business Continuity, Social & Political cohesion, Remote & Working education, Digital Finance, etc. In return, it is expected that this hackathon will promote collaboration and transference of knowledge about COVID-19 among European Union countries.

    As it is happening with other initiatives, #EUvsVirus has canceled registration deadline and the number of participants is illimited to ensure greater participation. The European Commission will provide follow up to the best #EUvsVirus projects through the new European Innovation Council COVID platform.

     

    Conclusions

    The European Commission is carrying out different examples of innovation support and development measures for this health crisis. European member countries understand the importance of investing in R&D and how, with it, we can combat threats such as COVID-19.

    It is important to listen to these calls for strong cooperation from the European Parliament. Measures such as those taken by the Horizon 2020 funding program or events like #EUvsVirus hackathon underline that desire of taking innovation as a shield against the coronavirus.

    We might not know when the idea that will help us to transform this situation will arise, but we do know that it will be through study, innovation, and science. It will always be better if we all cooperate to achieve it. Quoting the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen: “It will mean investing in our digital technologies, infrastructure and in innovation […] to help us to be more independent and make the most of new opportunities. And in this new world, Europe will need to stick together through thick and thin. […] And as I look around our Union […] I know that we can and we will do just that.”

    Can your R&D initiative contribute to the fight against coronavirus? Do you want to know more details about European financing during this COVID-19 outbreak? Send us an email to info@evolutioneurope.eu and get a no-cost, no-obligation evaluation for your project!