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Only 20% of companies and research centers that apply for funding through the European Union’s 7th Framework Program (7FP) are granted subsidies for their projects. The 7FP –the main European funding instrument for R&D&i projects for 2007 to 2013– will grant a record amount of 6,400 million euros (5,700 million euros in 2009 and 4,700 in 2008).

The Catalan Government, through the Connect-EU Program, has set the goal of having between 100 and 150 Catalan companies receive subsidies this year and increase the number of projects led by research organizations by 30%.

Europe and opportunities for Catalonia

To raise awareness of the resources available in Europe, a symposium was held last week at the Barcelona World Trade Center with representatives from the European Commission, the Center for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) and the Ministry of Innovation, with more than 700 participants. Other large-scale initiatives were also presented, including the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Projects Director for the Biocat Unit of Strategic Projects, Ascensió Heredia, explained the work being carried out to drive Catalonia’s bid to participate actively in the new EIT KIC (knowledge and innovation community) in health and life sciences, which is scheduled to be chosen in 2011. These activities have the support of Ciemat (MICINN).

The Government of Catalonia has earmarked 12.8 million euros in 2010 to increase the EU funds that go to research in companies and public and private research organizations in Catalonia. This budget comes from national Euroingenio fund, which gives funding to Autonomous Communities according to their proven capacity to attract European R&D funds. In 2009, Catalonia received 70% more aid from Brussels than in 2008. Last year, 2% of all EU aid for R&D projects through the 7FP went to Catalan companies and research organizations. This number is quite significant taking into account that the countries that receive the most funding, like Germany and the United Kingdom, account for less than 10%. In 2009 Catalan research centers and companies received 76.68 million euros from the EU for R&D activities, 28.39% of the Spanish total. Connect-EU aims to reach 110 million euros in funding for 2010 and include a larger number of companies, as participation has so far been dominated by universities and research centers.

Since 2007, Catalonia has participated in 620 research projects from the 7FP, leading 37% of these, and has received 240 million euros in funding. The Connect-EU Program has three focal points: building a lobbying strategy in Brussels, providing project management training and services to help win European funding, and strengthening R&D in companies. The EU lobbying strategy will include reinforcements in the ACC1Ó offices in Brussels and the creation of a Connect-EU Network, made up of sectorial groups in Catalonia with similar interests in Europe.

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