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7th Framework Programme for Research wraps up with final evaluation

Although the story of the 7th EU Framework Programme for Research (FP7) has officially wrapped up with the adoption of the final evaluation report by the European Commission late last month, the effects of the programme will be felt for decades to come, according to the report. On January 25, the European Commission unveiled the ex-post evaluation of the funding programme, which ran from 2007 to 2013 with a EUR 55 billion budget. The evaluation was carried out by an independent group of high-level experts to assess the impact of the programme on scientific excellence and competitiveness. The report contains a series of recommendations to improve the funding of research in the EU, many of which have been integrated into the Horizon 2020 programme. 
The evaluation report notes that a record number of participants and projects were funded under FP7. During the programme’s lifetime, a total of 136 000 eligible proposals were submitted to FP7 calls, from which 25 000 received funding. The programme maintained a global outlook, with 170 countries represented by a total of 134 000 participants. Of these, 86% came from EU countries, 8% from associated countries and 6% from the rest of the world. Germany scooped up the largest share of the funding, followed by the United Kingdom. International collaboration was an important element in FP7, and the average collaborative project involved 11 organisations from six countries and nine regions. Overall, the funding supported 29 000 organisations, of which over 70% participated in an EU research and development funding programme for the first time. The lion’s share of funding was claimed by universities and research organisations, which received 70% of the funding. The private sector and public bodies were awarded from 25% and 5% of the funding, respectively. 
The programme contributed to strengthening scientific excellence in Europe, supporting the production of over 170 000 publications with an average open access rate of 54%. In addition, 650 of these were published in the high-impact journals Science and Nature. Furthermore, growth triggered by FP7 investment is forecasted to add EUR 500 billion to the European economy over 25 years.  European Commission (Fact sheet) Report of the High Level Expert Group