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International co-operation in research and science will deliver stronger economic and social returns for Europe

On 2 February, the launch of the Horizon Europe research, innovation and science programme 2021-2027 took place. This launch is being officiated by the European Commission and by the Portuguese Presidency of the EU. Horizon Europe is a key policy instrument that the EU will be rolling out to boost EU competitiveness, tackle the UN sustainable development goals and support the implementation of the EU Green deal. The final agreed budget for Horizon Europe over the next seven years is €95.5 billion, writes Huawei Technologies Director EU Public Affairs David Harmon.

The use of new and evolving technologies are central elements within the infrastructure of Horizon Europe. In fact, all the key building blocks of Horizon Europe contain strong collaborative ICT research components in support of important EU policy objectives. The European Research Council (ERC) will continue to support the Nobel prize winners of the future under pillar 1 of Horizon Europe. Many successful ERC grantees will include advancement in the field of technological research as part of their high-end research proposals.

The core objective of Pillar 2 of Horizon Europe is to boost economic growth in Europe and to tackle grand societal global challenges. Again collaborative actions in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) will support EU Horizon Europe calls covering the health, energy, climate, agriculture and industry sectors. A core objective of the EU institutions is to build a policy framework that will make Europe fit for the digital age. Europe is already home to 20% of all global research and development activities in the world today. This lays the foundation for the building of the necessary digital and sustainable manufacturing tools that will deliver stronger value chains and a more innovative circular economy in Europe.

Pillar 3 of Horizon Europe will ensure that innovative ICT products can gain entry into the marketplace. The European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) are strengthening synergies and cooperation among businesses, educational institutions and research organisations. These respective bodies will help scale up companies in Europe and provide stronger levels of financial support to tech start-ups and to small and medium sized companies.

The putting in place of new standards for the tech products of the future starts at the basic scientific research level. It is very important that there is strong international cooperation in the building of new standards for the tech products and services of the future. International collaboration and cooperation can ensure that unitary as opposed to de-coupled standards can apply to the development of the next generation of smart networks and services. Unitary standards for products in general, including within the tech sector reduce costs, promote higher levels of efficiency and foster innovation.

The research and science policy areas are in reality economic instruments. Countries and companies alike that invest higher levels of investment into basic collaborative research activity deliver stronger economic returns in the medium term. Horizon Europe does support individual scientific excellence. But policy makers rightly want to increase the participation levels of small and medium sized companies in Horizon Europe research and innovation initiatives. This will support stronger economic progress noting that the EU is home to over 25 million small and medium sized enterprises alone.

David Harmon is director of EU public affairs at Huawei Technologies and is a former member in the cabinet of the European commissioner for research, innovation and science 2010-2014.


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