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Talks underway on coordinating EU Covid-19 R&D funding

Move is part of EU’s ten-point R&D plan for the pandemic

Representatives of EU member states met for the first time on 17 April to talk through ways to align their national R&D funding to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ad hoc working group was set up after EU research ministers agreed on 7 April to support the first 10 priority actions of an EU plan for tackling Covid-19 proposed by the European Commission.

Coordinating research and innovation funding was the first of these priorities. According to the plan, the action “aims at giving national authorities a possibility to work closer and align activities through programme level cooperation”.

It is as yet unclear exactly what form this cooperation might take but various precedents exist. One example is Joint Programming Initiatives, under which countries mainly from Europe are coordinating R&D funding for subjects ranging from neurodegenerative disease to climate change.

Research Professional News understands that discussions are also underway on the third of the 10 actions, which is on finding “new funding for innovative and rapid health-related approaches to respond to coronavirus and deliver quick results relevant to society and a higher level of preparedness of health systems”.

This funding, which would be in addition to anything already announced, is intended to focus on social and economic impacts of the pandemic, medical technologies and ICT applications, and health systems preparedness including manufacturing.

Research Professional News also understands that preparations have taken place for action seven, which is setting up a high-level research and innovation task force to advise on medium and long-term priorities and communicating these to the public.

Some of the actions have already been completed, including the creation of a Covid-19 research data-sharing platform, which was launched on 21 April.