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EU boosts urgently needed research and innovation budget with additional 122 million euros

The European Commission has mobilised a further 122 million euros from its research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, for urgently needed research into the coronavirus. The money is in addition to the Commission’s 1.4 billion-euro pledge to the Coronavirus Global Response initiative, launched by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier this month.

The new call is the latest addition to a range of EU-funded research and innovation actions to fight Covid-19. It complements earlier actions to develop diagnostics, treatments and vaccines by strengthening capacity to manufacture and deploying readily available solutions in order to rapidly address the pressing needs. It will also improve understanding of the behavioural and socio-economic impacts of the epidemic.

“We are mobilising all means at our disposal to fight this pandemic with testing, treatments and prevention,” says European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel. “But to succeed against the coronavirus, we must also understand how it impacts our society and how to best deploy these interventions rapidly. We must explore technological solutions to manufacture medical equipment and supplies faster, to monitor and prevent the spread of the disease, and to better care for patients.”

The projects to be funded from the new injection of funding should repurpose manufacturing for rapid production of vital medical supplies and equipment needed for testing, treatment and prevention, as well as develop medical technologies and digital tools to improve detection, surveillance and patients care. New research will learn from large groups of patients (cohorts) across Europe and better understanding of the behavioural and socio-economic impacts of the coronavirus epidemic could help improve treatment and prevention strategies.

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“We are supporting the health authorities, healthcare professionals and the general public in all member states in tackling the coronavirus crisis. To this end, we are deploying innovative technologies and tools that can quickly be used to prevent, optimally treat, and recover from this pandemic and prepare for its aftermath. These include digital solutions and technologies such as telemedicine, data, AI, robotics, and photonics,” adds Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton.

The deadline for submissions is June 11, with the project focused on delivering results quickly. Europe, and the world at large, urgently need innovative solutions to contain and mitigate the outbreak, and to better care for patients, survivors, vulnerable groups, frontline health care staff and their communities. This is why the Commission aims to enable research work to start as quickly as possible through shorter timelines for the preparation of expressions of interest and for their evaluation.

The new solutions need to be available and affordable for all, in line with the principles of the Coronavirus Global Response. For this purpose, the Commission will include rapid data-sharing clauses in grant agreements, resulting from this new call, to ensure that findings and outcomes can be put to use immediately.

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