Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 219

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
I S S U E S I X
219
U K F O C U S
is almost €9m and spans areas of ICT, health
and the MSCAs, which is ideal for partnerships
between North and South.
To what extent has Northern Ireland
been able to boost SME
participation in Horizon 2020, and
what further action will be taken?
Increasing SME participation in Horizon 2020
is a key objective for the Northern Ireland
Executive. We want to see more of our SMEs
collaborating in research, development and
innovation projects with a range of EU partners,
and it is therefore encouraging that over 17.6%
of the early successful applications are from
SMEs; this compares favourably to the 13.4%
rate in FP7.
Again, the statistics must be heavily caveated
– it is very early days and Horizon 2020 is, as
was anticipated, proving to be much more
competitive than FP7; the average EU success
rate in the first calls of Horizon 2020 is around
14%, while in FP7 the figure was over 21%.
However, we are committed to increasing our
efforts to support greater SME involvement in
Horizon 2020. The new Northern Ireland
Strategy on Horizon 2020 sets out very clearly
the importance of successful participation from
small and medium-sized businesses. As part of
this policy, we are producing an SME
engagement plan that will lay out our strategies
for driving that increased engagement.
What have been the key
achievements of the new Northern
Ireland Horizon 2020 manager, and
how will this role develop further?
The key achievement of the Horizon 2020
manager position has been the co-ordination of
activities across the Northern Ireland Executive
to support increased participation in Horizon
2020. That improved co-ordination, which has
secured commitment from right across the
Executive, has led to the production of a new
Horizon 2020 Strategy for Northern Ireland. It
sets out very clearly the importance the
N
orthern Ireland is very much looking beyond its borders
to enjoy the multitude of benefits that international
research, development and innovation offers. The
country has already enjoyed particular success in gaining funding
from Horizon 2020, including its two main universities securing
funding from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA). The
creation of the Northern Ireland Horizon 2020 Contact Point
Network is also proving particularly fruitful.
In addition to a spotlight on national achievements, there is also an
increasing focus on encouraging collaboration with researchers in the
Republic of Ireland and the United States. Through various organisations,
partnerships and programmes, the maximum value of this research
tripartite is being yoked.
In order to explore these issues in more detail, Arlene Foster, Minister of
Enterprise, Trade and Investment in the Northern Ireland Executive, spoke
to Portal and provided an overview of the country’s participation in the
EU research and innovation framework programme so far. She detailed
the benefits of the new Horizon 2020 Contact Point Network, the growing
involvement of Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and Ulster University
(UU), and the policies and strategies that are encouraging closer research,
development and innovation co-operation between Northern Ireland, the
Republic of Ireland and the United States.
How would you evaluate the participation of Northern
Ireland in Horizon 2020 during the first year?
Whilst the European Commission has yet to release the data on the full
results of the first year of Horizon 2020 calls, the Commission has
released data from the first six months of the programme, i.e. up until
the end of June 2014. For that period, Northern Irish researchers
successfully applied for funding of €6.5m across 17 different proposals
over a range of thematic areas from both industry and academia; 66%
of the successful applications were from universities, while 29% were
from companies.
While the initial data is an extremely small sample size, and we must be
careful not to draw too many conclusions from the statistics, we are
encouraged to see that companies are accounting for a greater
percentage of overall Northern Ireland funding (35%) than in the Seventh
Framework Programme (FP7 – 23%). One of our key aims is to increase
company success in Horizon 2020. Another positive finding from the
initial data was that over 70% of successful applications involved support
from the new Northern Ireland Horizon 2020 Contact Point Network.
Furthermore, seven of the successful projects include 19 partners from
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The value of these projects
Northern Ireland’s mission
Northern Ireland’s Enterprise Minister,
Arlene Foster,
outlines how the country
is harnessing the benefits of Horizon 2020 and the growing importance of
co-operation with the Republic of Ireland and the USA
Arlene Foster
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