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Research Matters campaign renews push for more R&I funding

Image: BurAnd, via Shutterstock

Move comes as Commission reveals Horizon Europe needed extra €55 billion across first three years

The Research Matters campaign, which is urging politicians across Europe to increase their public investment in research and innovation, has renewed its push with the publication of an open letter setting out its arguments.

The letter, published on 4 June and addressed to European finance ministers and the EU’s political institutions, stresses that investing in R&I is “the foundation for Europe’s competitiveness, wellbeing and peace”.

This is because Europe needs “urgent solutions” to challenges including climate change, cybersecurity, threats to democracy and disease.

The US and countries in Asia have “massively ramped up” their investments in R&I in recent years, “leaving Europe behind”, the letter warns.

“To remain competitive and advance the economic, ecological and societal transitions, European countries and the EU must boost their R&I funding,” the letter urges.

Specific aims

Specifically, the campaign is calling for the EU and “all European countries” to spend at least 3 per cent of their GDP on R&I.

It also wants the EU to more than double the budget of its R&I programme, so that it reaches €200 billion for 2028-34, and to ringfence this budget.

“These measures are critical to provide Europe with strategies to cope with current and future geopolitical and societal challenges,” the letter says.

It urges politicians, the R&I community and society more broadly to join existing members in their push.

Since it launched last month, the campaign has won the backing of more organisations from the R&I sector, including the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities.

Extra €55bn needed

At about the same time that the campaign was renewing its push, the European Commission published data on the first three years of Horizon Europe, the EU’s 2021-27 R&I programme.

It said that during that time, the programme signed off more than 10,600 grants worth a total of €30.8bn. Horizon Europe has a total 2021-27 budget of about €93.5bn.

But there were more than 68,100 eligible applications and, due to budget shortages, only 33 per cent of the high-quality proposals were able to be funded. An extra €55bn would have been needed in those first three years to fund the rest of the high-quality proposals.

EU-based beneficiaries won 92 per cent of all grants, and the EU member states had an average application success rate of 21.8 per cent. The success rate was 19.6 per cent for those member states that qualify for extra support and 22.5 per cent for the rest, up from 13.5 per cent and 16 per cent respectively in the previous programme.