October 15 (SeeNews) - The European Commission (EC) will expand funding available under its research and innovation scheme Horizon 2020 to almost EUR 16 billion (USD 18.3 billion) with EUR 1 billion specially earmarked for energy-related activities within the new 2016-2017 work programme.
Secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy is one of EU's top priorities and several activities under the new work programme will help mobilise research to generate innovative solutions in this area, the Commission said in a news release on Tuesday.
The Competitive Low-carbon Energy call (EUR 723 million) underpins EU's commitment to diversify energy sources. In addition, three of the new Horizon Prizes will focus on boosting innovation in low carbon energy technologies offering EUR 3.25 million to winning solutions.
The ambition to make Europe the global number one in renewable energy will be supported by an investment of more than EUR 400 million in bringing promising technologies closer to the market.
The Smart and Sustainable Cities call (EUR 232 million) aims to bring together cities, industry and citizens to find sustainable integrated energy and transport solutions.
Projects funded under the Energy Efficiency call (EUR 194 million) will trigger direct energy savings of up to 230.000 tonne of oil equivalent per year.
Activities in the areas of climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials will jointly help to ensure that the investment of 35% for climate action and 60% for sustainable development across the whole Horizon 2020 will deliver maximum impact. In the climate area, the Work Programme will invest EUR 178 million in 2016 alone in large-scale innovation actions to demonstrate future solutions for greening the economy.
In addition, around EUR 2 billion of the total funding in the Work Programme 2016-17 will go to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including EUR 740 million through a dedicated instrument which should benefit over 2000 highly innovative SMEs. On top of that, financial instruments, targeted in particular to SMEs, will increase the opportunities for funding to support research and innovation. These investments will be intensified with the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
(EUR 1 = USD 1.144)