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‘Significant increase’ in EU R&I budget urged by over 100 groups

Image: Pakin Songmor, via Getty Images

R&I programme should prioritise collaboration and attracting private investment, industry-dominated joint statement says

More than 100 European associations representing organisations that carry out research and innovation have called on the EU to “significantly increase” the budget of its next R&I funding programme.

At the same time, the EU member states themselves should, “at a minimum”, finally meet their long-missed target to spend 3 per cent of their GDP on R&I, the groups including the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations said in a joint statement published on 4 July.

EU investment in R&I “significantly lags behind [that of] its global competitors”, the organisations pointed out, echoing remarks made repeatedly by the academic sector and the EU R&I commissioner Iliana Ivanova, among others.

The next R&I programme, starting in 2028, will play “an important role” in encouraging private investment, said the new joint statement, whose signatories were mainly industry groups.

Public investments “are crucial to alleviate market failures…by lowering the risks that such investments represent for the industry”, said signatories including Business Europe and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations.

Focus on collaboration

Whereas most academic groups have stressed the importance of instruments that fund basic research, mainly by single principal investigators, the signatories said the next programme “must focus on excellent cross-border collaborative R&I, with a strong industrial participation”.

A “significant” part of the programme’s total budget should go to its collaboration-focused instruments, which must also be “driven by strategic EU priorities and clearly defined industrial needs”.

This should include building long-term public-private partnerships and reducing the risk of private investment by “demonstrating the EU’s support for technology-intensive sectors”.

“We are fully convinced that Europe has much better potential in the global innovation race,” the organisations said.

“Europe needs to strongly invest in pan-European collaborative R&I fostering collaboration, driving technology maturation and innovation, and leveraging the expertise of R&I public and private actors to strengthen its competitiveness and assert its leadership in key technological domains.”