Research with our sights set on Brussels

Research with our sights set on Brussels

Spain obtained more than 1.100M euros in direct assistance to finance R&D activities between 2014 and 2015.

The initial results have just been announced for Horizons 2020 (H2020), the biggest EU research and innovation programme, which plans to invest 80,000M euros (yes, you read correctly) over the course of seven years.

There is no way around it: the results for Spain are very good. We are the fourth biggest recipient of funds, and the percentage of the financial returns increased from 8.3 to 9.7% of the total. This translates into more than 1.1M euros in direct financial assistance to finance R&D activities in Spain between 2014-2015 alone.

At the regional level, the results are also positive: 71 activities approved in the first two years of Horizons 2020 included the participation of entities from the region of Castile and Leon (universities, businesses, association, etc.), 21 of which were coordinated from our region. All in all, the volume of investment that we have obtained exceeds 30M euros, positioning us sixth at a national level, behind Catalonia, Madrid, Basque Country, Valencia and Andalusia.

At the university level, we have been promoting the participation of our research groups in H2020 for quite some time. Competition is stiff as rival projects hail not only from the EU, but from other countries which have joined the programme and contribute to its financing. In fact, the rate of those who receive support is quite low, at an average 12%. However, the amounts received compensate the undeniably exhausting work involved in the presentation, management and accountability.

Research with our sights set on Brussels
Research with our sights set on Brussels

Spanish universities receive 20% of the money received by Spain, and in the case of Castile and Leon, this percentage nearly reaches 24%. This is good news and a sign that the situation is not nearly as dire as it would appear in some of the rankings and classifications published recently. Furthermore, the research groups in our universities have already become used to it. Between 2013 and 2015 requests for aid from European programmes at the University of Salamanca have increased five-fold, leading to a significant increase in the number of projects in which we are currently working.

The H2020 projects are carried out in the form of consortia in which various organisations, including enterprises, participate. In fact, they are the greatest recipients of assistance in net terms. In the case of Spain, 39% of the funds received (35% in Castile and Leon). And the areas receiving the greatest amount of resources from H2020 include innovation in SMEs, nanotechnology, energy and ICT.

At a local level, for assistance at a smaller scale than that of R&D, the European approach is key for everybody involved: universities, enterprises, administrations, technology centres and research centres. By working together we join forces to receive more resources and initiate projects that are more and more ambitious. And that’s exactly what we are doing.


Research with our sights set on Brussels
Article published in El Mundo 

Juan Manuel Corchado

Full Professor in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, Department of Computer Science and Automation, University of Salamanca, Spain.


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