Governments and other public and private bodies have opened emergency calls to fund projects working to help tackle the pandemic. Here is a summary of the most noteworthy.
Researchers and companies all over the world are already hard at work looking for new diagnostic and therapeutic tools to fight Covid-19. In fact, as we posted on the Biocat blog, there are dozens of Catalan projects underway in this field and around the world, the number of clinical trials on the virus is growing every day. Let’s look at the main sources of funding these projects can apply for now:
Under the H2020 program, on March 20, the European Commission closed the call for the EIC Accelerator (previously the SME Instrument) for the European Innovation Council pilot to fund innovators, entrepreneurs, SMEs and researchers through acceleration instruments. The projects will receive between €500,000 and €2.5 million in grants over 12 to 24 months. The deadline for the upcoming calls is May 19 (only for proposals for the “Green Deal” initiative) and October 7, 2020 for all topics.
The European Commission has launched several measures to mitigate the socio-economic impact of Covid-19. Some specifically affect management of ERDF funds. The Commission may relinquish the obligation to request refunding of unspent amounts in 2020. So, the ERDF will support and provide working capital for SMEs to effectively address the crisis. ERDF financial instruments will be part of this support in the form of working capital for SMEs when necessary, as a temporary measure. The ERDF investment priorities have been updated to strengthen research, technological development and innovation to cover investment in products and services needed to foster the ability to respond to the crises.
The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has opened an emergency call to fund quick research and development of therapies and diagnostics to fight coronavirus infections. The call, for which the European Commission has earmarked €45 million, is geared towards projects developing antivirals and other types of therapies, and diagnostic systems. Preventative vaccines are specifically excluded. The deadline to apply for funding through this call is March 31. The pharmaceutical industry is expected to contribute €90 million to the program. The European Commission Funding & Tenders Portal has tools to search for partners and to submit projects to this call.
Under the framework of the Covid-19 Fund, which was part of the extraordinary emergency measures passed by the Spanish government, the Carlos III Health Institute has opened a call for research projects and proposals on SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19, with €24 million.
The call is open to new projects or those currently underway that focus on developing rapid virologic diagnostic techniques for Covid-19; clinical, biological and molecular characterization of the disease; developing innovative therapies, new antiviral molecules, antiseptics and disinfectants, studies on antiviral resistance and the effectiveness of non-pharmacological, prophylactic and therapeutic interventions; characterizing SARS-CoV-2; developing vaccines and analyzing their effectiveness and applicability; epidemiological surveillance and molecular study of Covid-19; using artificial intelligence and integrated big data analysis tools for epidemiological control; socio-economic impact of the disease (use of healthcare resources).
The proposals must allow for immediate implementation in the National Health System. The call opened for applications on March 19 and will stay open until the Covid-19 Fund is closed.
The Ministry of Science and Innovation, through CDTI, has implemented measures to promote innovation in companies. Firstly, the CDTI is lowering the guarantees required for R&D projects (not only Cervera projects in cooperation with technology centers) carried out by SMEs and mid-cap companies approved from March 14, 2020. This reduction is limited to €500,000 for small companies; €1 million for medium-sized companies and €3 million for mid-cap companies. The limit is extended to €1 million, €2 million and €3 million, respectively, when the activity is related to emergency products for Covid-19, including face masks, goggles, gloves and gowns, among other products. And secondly, CDTI has opened a fast track to manage all projects for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency situation, prioritizing projects related to emergency products.