- energy sector's key role in de-carbonisation is recognised
The EU Commission recently published its proposal for the new
multiannual programme for research and innovation. Fortum welcomes the
clear signal of the proposal to focus resources on strategic EU growth
and sustainability priorities as well as the genuine attempt to simplify
and streamline both the programme and procedures. Especially positive
is the large share of energy research in the forthcoming Horizon 2020
programme compared to the present FP7, hence reflecting the energy
sector's role in leading the way towards de-carbonisation goals.
Fortum welcomes the Commission's proposal for a new multiannual
research and innovation financing programme, Horizon 2020, which was
published on 30 November 2011. The proposal to increase the overall
budget for research and innovation activities is well in line with the
aim to target EU financing more closely to the implementation of the
strategic growth and sustainability priorities. The proposal to increase
the energy related research activities is also a clear improvement
compared to the situation under current financing programme. It also
emphasises accurately the key role of the energy sector in leading the
development towards de-carbonised society.
Fortum wants to highlight especially the following aspects regarding the "EU Horizon 2020" proposal:
- Horizon 2020 marks positively the aim to
simplify and clarify the system by bringing all research and innovation
related programmes under a single programme framework. A genuine effort
has also been made to simplify the participation rules and
administrative procedures. For example, the proposed target to reduce
the maximum time of handling applications to 100 days from the present
150 days is especially welcome as slow and cumbersome application and
financing procedures have clearly been identified as a reason for
reduced companies' interests to participate in the EU calls.
- We also warmly welcome the Commission's
commitment to increase flexibility in the scope and specification of
cooperation calls in the new programme because an important precondition
for industry participation is that the results of R&D projects have
relevance in terms of company's future business activities.
- Horizon 2020 puts more focus in developing
scientific breakthroughs into innovative products and services. Besides
supporting wider participation of SMEs, the proposal also rightly
recognises the important role of large companies in improving industrial
- EU Strategic Energy Technology Plan, SET
Plan, has been integrated as the energy pillar of the Horizon 2020,
hence bringing the implementation of separate Industrial Initiatives
more closely connected with the key EU financing instrument.
- Although the budget for energy related
research and innovation has increased, there is still a wide gap between
proposal and the estimated EUR 50 billion implementation
costs of the SET Plan Industrial Initiatives. Hence, additional
financing from national RDI budgets, cohesion funds as well as other
innovative financing instruments will be needed.
- It is important to make sure that funding
is available for large-scale demonstration projects, especially those
relating to SET Plan industrial initiatives, as the scale and risks of
such projects are often too big to be covered by private funding.
- In order to improve long-term
competitiveness of the EU and companies it is crucial to continue to
allocate funding on the basis of competitive calls and using excellence
as the decisive selection criteria. Regarding selection criteria,
priority should be given to research projects that have the biggest
potential for cost-efficient carbon reduction and the potential for
market viability in the medium term while reserving also a reasonable
share of the funds to radical innovations and projects covering the
whole innovation chain.
EU Horizon 2020 – background information
Integrates earlier initiatives:
The EU Horizon 2020 programme integrates the
earlier Framework Programme for Research (FP7), the Competitiveness and
Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), and the European Institute of
Innovation and Technology (EIT).
Targets the innovation chain:
The aim of the renewed proposal is to create,
for instance, a whole "innovation chain" – from basic research to
bringing innovative products and services to market – and also to
support non-technological innovation, for example in design and
marketing. There is a strong emphasis on European Innovation
The Commission has proposed a EUR-80-billion
overall budget for the programme for distribution among three high-level
objectives: Excellent science base; Industrial leadership and
competitive frameworks; and Tackling societal challenges.
Following the EU energy and climate package
in 2007, the Commission published a Strategic Energy Technology Plan
(SET Plan) in 2008 as a technology pillar to complement the energy and
climate package. The SET Plan covers all key energy technologies needed
for moving towards a low-carbon energy system.