The Council of European Ministers in charge of their respective countries' research portfolio reached an agreement on the rules of participation in Horizon 2020. Those rules will have an important impact on the companies and research organisations taking part in the main funding instrument of the European Union for science, research and innovation. With a provisional budget of 80 billion euro, Horizon 2020 would be once implemented the world’s largest research programme.
The agreement introduces two reimbursement rates for indirect costs, 100% for R&D projects and 70% for close to market initiatives. Another refitting is the increase of the flat rate for indirect costs from 20% to 25% of the direct costs of a project. European Ministers also introduced a new scheme that would allow a maximum of 8,000 euro to be awarded to researchers as a bonus for personnel costs.
Incentives for the participation of SMEs in the Horizon 2020 programme will be put into place. A large share of the Horizon 2020 budget dedicated to SMEs will be delivered through a dedicated SME instrument, the exact budget allocation being still undecided.
The SME instrument will target highly innovative small businesses with a potential to grow rapidly and internationalise their activities. Companies taking part in this programme will not necessarily have to be originally dedicating a large part of their activities to research. The SME instrument will be business-oriented and focused on bringing new technologies on the markets. A reimbursement rate of 70% will apply to close-to-market activities under the future rules of participation. However, small businesses may still take part in collaborative research projects where the rules of participation state the reimbursement rate is 100%.
These developments are very timely and important for the preparation and implementation of the continuation of the Eurostars Programme, an instrument managed jointly by EUREKA and the European Commission and dedicated to R&D SMEs, under Horizon 2020.
You can find more information about the latest Council of Ministers on Competitiveness on the European Council’s website.