Sarah Collen-Godman, Senior Policy Manager – NHS European Office at the NHS Confederation discusses how the Horizon 2020 programme will help to address major societal challenges
Horizon 2020, Europe’s research and innovation programme, was launched at the beginning of 2014 and will run until 2020. It is the EU’s overarching, multi-disciplinary research and innovation funding programme that will see more than €70bn dedicated to support the EU’s position as a world leader in science, help secure industrial leadership in innovation, and help address major societal challenges.
Research and innovation for health-related topics fall predominantly under the highest funded societal challenge on ‘health, demographic change, and wellbeing’, which has an indicative budget of €7.5bn for the 7 year period. This will fund activities throughout the whole R&D spectrum, from basic research to market, with a new focus on impact and innovation-related activities.
The European Commission is increasingly pushing for research and ideas funded to be translated into practice and demonstrate clear advantages to patients and have a real impact on population health and wellbeing. Taken together, projects supported by the ‘health, demographic change and wellbeing’ challenge will contribute to:
- Understanding health, ageing and disease;
- Effective health promotion, disease prevention, preparedness and screening;
- Improving diagnosis;
- Innovative treatments and technologies;
- Advancing active and healthy ageing;
- Integrated, sustainable, citizen-centred care;
- Improving health information, data exploitation and providing an evidence base for health policy and regulation.
Historically, the UK, particularly its academia, has significant experience of accessing EU research funding and is the largest beneficiary of EU health research funds. The increased focus on impact and uptake of innovation means there is greater scope for involvement of other stakeholders from outside academia, such as healthcare providers, small to medium-size businesses, charities and patients groups. The European Commission has also made a big effort to streamline the rules – and to apply them across the funding stream. The reimbursement rates of project expenses are simpler, with a single reimbursement rate for most projects. That means less paperwork and fewer audits. It has also limited time from application to grant to 8 months, to encourage this to become more accessible to more stakeholders outside of academia. All projects need to have a European added value – going beyond research at the national level and should involve participants from at least 3 EU member states.
EU’s 3rd Health Programme
The EU’s Third Health Programme 2014-2020 has a budget of €449.4m (2014-2020) to support cooperation projects at EU level; actions were jointly undertaken by Member State health authorities; the functioning of pan-European non-governmental networks and cooperation with international organisations. Through the different funding mechanisms, the EU’s Health Programme aims to strengthen public health across Europe through:
- Promoting health, preventing diseases, and fostering supportive environments for healthy lifestyles;
- Protecting citizens from serious cross-border health threats;
- Contributing to innovative, efficient and sustainable health systems;
- Facilitating access to better and safer healthcare for Union citizens.
Overarching operational objectives are to identify, disseminate and promote the up-take of evidence-based and good practices, standards, tools and resources through knowledge sharing activities. Where appropriate, this can also include developing coordinated approaches, for example, for use during cross border health emergencies.
How to apply:
Funding is issued through open calls for proposals with strict deadlines for submission of projects. All proposals are submitted electronically. The website dedicated to the electronic administration of the EU Health Programme and Horizon 2020 projects is: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/home.html
For more information, contact the Horizon 2020 National Contact Points for Health: Jerome de Barros, Innovate UK Jerome.DeBarros@innovateuk.gov.uk & Alex Harris, Medical Research Council Alex.Harris@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk https://www.h2020uk.org/national-contact-points
Senior Policy Manager, NHS European Office