The European Commission is urging start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – in particular those who have new techniques for combating the corona virus – to apply for funding for their innovations. These companies can submit an urgent application to the European Innovation Council. This funding round had already been launched. The deadline for applications is next Wednesday the 18th of March. It revolves around technologies and innovations that can help in the treatment, testing, monitoring or other aspects of the corona virus outbreak.

The budget is currently €164 million. No predetermined thematic priorities have been set. Applicants with innovations pertaining to the corona virus will be assessed in the same way as other applicants.

Relevant innovations

The EIC already supports a number of start-ups and SMEs that received funding in previous rounds who have innovations which have something to do with the corona virus. This includes the EpiShuttle project for specialized isolation units. The m-TAP project for filtration technology for the removal of viral materials. And the MBENT project which monitors human mobility during epidemics.

Furthermore, the European Commission is stimulating urgently needed research on the corona virus. They’re doing that with €10 million from its Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. It has launched an urgent appeal for research projects that will advance our understanding of the new corona virus epidemic. As well as contribute to more efficient clinical management of patients infected with the virus. Last but not least, improve public health preparedness and response.

Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth: “We are working to mitigate the effects of a potential increase in the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the EU. Thanks to emergency funding for research from Horizon 2020, we will be able to learn more about the disease. I am proud that our super computer centers are, after the advances of recent years, now ready to help researchers in their work in developing new treatments and vaccines. We will be better able to protect the public and deal more effectively with current and future outbreaks.”

Freeing up €25 billion for investment

The Commission is also preparing measures to allow EU countries to grant state aid to companies that need it. And make full use of the flexibility of the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact. The Corona investment initiative is aimed at:

  • health care services
  • small and medium-sized enterprises
  • the job market
  • other vulnerable sectors of our economy

In order to be able to swiftly release €25 billion of European public investment to address the impact of the corona virus, the Commission proposes to waive its requirement to recover unused advanced funding from the Member States as stated under the terms of the EU structural and investment funds.

Member States should use this money to speed up their investments within the framework of the EU structural funds. This money should be used for national co-financing which is normally covered by the Member States themselves, before they receive the subsequent tranches of their money from the structural funds. Given the average level of co-financing that comes from the Member States, this would amount to €7.5 billion. Which could in turn be used to release and utilize throughout the EU a further €17.5 to €18 billion from the structural funds.

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About the author

Author profile picture Arnoud Cornelissen has for many years been writing about science and technology in, among others, various Dutch newspapers.