A report for the European Commission has said that just over €5 billion was spent by 991 foundations on research and innovation in 2012.
The study found that foundations spent €4.5bn on research projects, with a further €0.5bn allocated for innovation. Medical science was the most popular research area, supported by 44 per cent of foundations and receiving 63 per cent of the funding, with social and behavioural science and natural science also receiving significant support.
In the report’s foreword, the Commission’s director-general of research Robert-Jan Smits said he was surprised at the size of the budget, which is equivalent to half the annual budget of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. "Over the last 25 years, the role of foundations as supporters of research and innovation in Europe has grown significantly in scope and scale," Smits said. "The implications are important."