The European Commission is awarding €36 million to bring innovative ideas to market quicker. 16 innovative projects, involving partners from 19 countries, will receive up to €3 million each under the first round of the Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) scheme, run under the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.
The projects include launching an airborne wind energy system, protecting people from disease-carrying mosquitoes, making sustainable, renewable and cheaper plastics from wood, and developing intelligent needle tracking for anaesthetics.
Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Across Europe, we need to nurture innovative ideas and make more of them become a reality. Today we are giving top innovative businesses a head start in the race to market by providing faster access to €36 million in EU funding."
The FTI scheme was launched in January 2015. The scheme proved popular from the beginning, receiving 269 proposals by the first ever cut-off date for applications on 29 April. Among the consortia, 82% of all partners were from industry and almost half were SMEs. Independent experts have selected 16 proposals for funding. Germany leads with 13 project partners, followed by France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom with nine each.
The FTI is a fully bottom up measure promoting innovation activities at the close-to 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 to support any topic under the “Societal Challenges” and the specific objective “Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEITs)”. This thematic openness – combined with openness to all kinds of innovation entities, will nurture trans-disciplinary and cross-sector cooperation for growth through innovation.
The pilot is implemented through one common and continuously open call. Proposals can be submitted at any time. The next cut-off dates for applications in 2015 are 1 September and 1 December. Continuation of the Fast Track to Innovation beyond 2016 will depend on the results of an in-depth evaluation of the scheme.