Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris today launched the European Union’s (EU) new €95.5 billion research funding framework, Horizon Europe, in Ireland.
Speaking at the virtual launch, Harris emphasised that the past year has demonstrated science’s importance to society.
“As we navigate our way through this global pandemic, science and research have been the forefront of the response.”
“Today, we launch a significant investment in research across Europe to ensure societies and economies are ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow.”
He added: “We want Irish innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs to be at the centre of this programme and to fulfil their research and innovation ambitions, scale their companies, and support a green recovery.”
Irish researchers can apply for funding from the new programme through Enterprise Ireland, which coordinates with the European Commission.
Speaking about the news, National Director for Horizon Europe at Enterprise Ireland, Garrett Murray, encouraged “all Irish researchers, innovators and newcomers across all disciplines to look at the opportunities under the new Programme and to contact their National Contact Points in Enterprise Ireland”.
This framework, which European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth Mariya Gabriel has described as “the world’s largest research and innovation programme,” builds on its previous iteration which ended last year, Horizon 2020.
Beginning in 2007, that initiative provided Irish researchers with over €1 billion, more than €132 million of which went to scientists at Trinity.
One Trinity-based project funded with €11.5 million from Horizon 2020, called Connecting Nature, aims to connect partners in 21 different countries to “realise the many benefits of nature in cities”. The initiative works actively with authorities in each of the participating locations to create ”large scale implementation of nature-based projects in urban settings”.
One such example is taking place in the Belgian town of Genk where Connecting Nature is working with locals to solve issues including poor water quality and flooding in the Stiemar valley. With five, 10 and 15-year plans for the area, they hope to transform it into a “vital part of the inhabitants’ quality of life”.
Another project funded by Horizon 2020 and led by current candidate for Provost at Trinity, Jane Ohlmeyer, called SHAPE-ID, aims to study the best and worst examples of interdisciplinary research in order to better understand how scientific and humanities disciplines can work together to make progress.
The group plans to deliver a “tool-kit” to the EU “to guide European policy makers, funders, universities and researchers in achieving successful pathways to interdisciplinary integration”.
The new funding framework, Horizon Europe, applies a “top-down” approach where a large portion of the funding will go towards projects which aim to solve societal or scientific problems relating to one of five areas the European Commission see as “global challenges”. These areas are cancer, adaptation to climate change including societal transformation, climate-neutral and smart cities, soil health and food, and healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters.