I’ll see your £200m and raise you five billion
Wow. On the heels of Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement of an additional £200m in science funding comes an even more astonishing proposed boost for science – the European Commission has proposed a 77 per cent increase in funding for the European Research Council, which provides grants for scientific collaborations amongst EU members:
The proposal for Framework 7’s successor includes three components, the priorities for which will be determined by scientists, industry and policy-makers, respectively, a Commission official said.
Under this proposal, Horizon 2020 would spend €24.6bn on “excellent science”. This includes €13.2bn for the European Research Council—a whopping 77 per cent increase on the previous period—and about €5.7bn for the Marie Curie programme for the mobility of researchers (a 21-per-cent increase).
A further €17.9bn would go to “industrial leadership”, including €13.7bn to develop areas such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and space technologies; €3.5bn to improve access to risk finance; and €619 million for innovative SMEs.
The boost is a recognition of the growing stature of the ERC, says Research Blogs’ Inga Vesper:
Over the past years the ERC has carved out a role for itself from what some viewed as a second class funding agency that financed those too bad for national money to a world-class, top-of-the-range institution that is overwhelmed with applications every time it opens a new call.
Part of the reason for giving it such a large boost, she suggests, is so that the overall omnibus it’s part of will be harder for parliamentarians to turn down, given the ERC’s stature.
All in all, it’s amazing news for science, and unexpected, with the current worries plaguing the Euro zone. The plan could of course still fall to pieces – it goes next to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, who don’t plan to have a final decision until the end of 2013.
Enough time, then, to make some friends in your discipline abroad and get your piece of the pie…