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This month, several announcements have been made relating to strengthening EU-funded international cooperation in research and increased funding for scientific research.
On 14 September, the European Commission (EC) has launched a Communication on Enhancing and focusing EU international cooperation in research and innovation: A strategic approach, which aims to reinforce EU’s attractiveness in research, tackle global challenges and support the Union’s external policies. In order to do so, a twofold approach is sought: a focus on openness and on targeted international cooperation activities. Regarding openness, Horizon 2020 (the EU’s next funding programme for research and innovation from 2014) will be fully open to third country participants; the targeted activities will entail cooperation in particular topics with specific countries, which will support the development of multi-annual roadmaps for cooperation with key partner countries and regions. Other important areas defined in this Communication include the reinforcement of links between the EC, member states and relevant stakeholders in the research and innovation areas, and the enhancement of the EU’s role in international organisations and multilateral fora. The EC will report on the implementation of this strategy every two years. The first report is expected in early 2014.
Two important announcements regarding research funding have also been made during this month. First, the European Research Council (ERC) has announced the results of the grants for early-career top researchers, which this year hit a record of EUR 800 million, a 19.4% rise compared to 2011. The ERC Starting Grants may be awarded to applicants of any nationality and age, provided they are based in or willing to move to Europe. This year, the grants will cover researchers from 41 nationalities in 21 European countries, with the largest portion of funding being allocated to projects in the fields of physical sciences and engineering, and life sciences. The United Kingdom, Germany and France will host the majority of successful applicants.
The second announcement was the EC approval of EUR 180 million funding for the first phase in the creation of a pan-European laboratory in Romania. This laboratory is part of a larger project, developed by Romania, the Czech Republic and Hungary, aiming to promote European research and the development of a cutting-edge European research consortium.