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Policy

EU focuses its research funding

Commission unveils priorities for 2018 through 2020

by Cheryl Hogue
November 3, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 44

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Credit: Shutterstock
The EU is earmarking €1 billion for circular economy research and innovation efforts.
Credit: Shutterstock
The EU is earmarking €1 billion for circular economy research and innovation efforts.

The European Commission is directing part of the last phase of its current seven-year research and innovation program to priorities including the development of low-carbon energy and sustainable materials.

The €80 billion ($92.8 billion) program, called Horizon 2020, began in 2014 and runs through 2020. Of that total, about €30 billion ($34.8 billion) will fund research and development between 2018 and the end of 2020, the Commission announced on Oct. 27.

Priorities for research include €3.3 billion ($3.8 billion) earmarked for efforts on low-carbon energy and boosting resilience to climate change. Another €1 billion ($1.2 billion) is aimed at helping create a “circular economy” in which resources are kept in use as long as possible, then recovered for reuse. As part of a €2.2 billion ($2.6 billion) effort on clean energy, €200 million ($232 million) will support the development and production in Europe of next-generation batteries. In addition, €2.7 billion ($3.1 billion) is designated for high-risk research that will likely have high payoffs if successful.

Horizon 2020 encourages scientists in the European Union to collaborate with counterparts elsewhere in the world, says Robert-Jan Smits, the EU’s director general for research and innovation. A number of program areas flagged for such international cooperation involve the chemical sciences. They include development of biobased plastics, personalized medicine, biotechnologies to clean up pollution, methods to identify endocrine disrupting chemicals, management of radioactive waste, and research into nanomaterial safety and the microbiome.

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