The European Commission is awarding nearly €32 million to bring innovative ideas to market quicker. The 15 benefitting projects, involving 70 partners in 19 countries, will receive around €2 million each under the fifth round of the Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) scheme run under the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.
The range of projects include those focused on development of composite material technology for aircrafts, electrode lead technology for cardiac diseases, vineyard robots, sustainable pre-fabricated glass facades and a new treatment for peripheral arterial disease.
In order to fast-track projects under the FTI scheme, the time between application and getting a grant agreement signed is capped at six months. Furthermore, the pilot is implemented through one common and continuously open call, meaning that proposals can be submitted at any time.
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Supporting innovation as a source of growth and job creation is at the core of Horizon 2020. Today we are giving top innovative businesses a head start in the race to market by providing faster access to €32 million in EU funding."
The FTI scheme was launched in January 2015. The fifth round of the scheme attracted a total of 280 project proposals, involving 1194 participants, by its cut-off date of 1 June 2016. This brings the total number of proposals received since the launch of the programme to 1446, of which 77 were selected to receive nearly €166.5 million in funding. Almost half of the project participants (44% for this cut-off) are Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
The next cut-off – on 25 October 2016 – is the last of the pilot FTI scheme. Discussions are underway on the FTI scheme's future as part of a wider debate on the 2018-2020 Work Programme for Horizon 2020. A decision on FTI will be taken in the course of next year, taking into account an assessment of the results of the FTI pilot in 2015, an evaluation of the scheme overall and the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020.
The FTI is a bottom-up measure promoting innovative activities at the close-to-the-market stage. It supports mature innovative concepts that have already been tested. Supported activities include systems validation in real working conditions, testing, piloting, validation of business models and standard setting and pre-normative research.
The scheme runs during 2015-2016 as a pilot initiative under Horizon 2020, with a budget of €200 million. The scheme is open to all kinds of participants and supports any topic under the “Societal Challenges” and the specific objective “Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEITs)”.