The Commission has short-listed 11 new projects worth €120 million from Horizon Europe, the biggest European research and innovation programme (2021-2027), for supporting and enabling urgent research into the coronavirus and its variants. This funding is part of a wide range of research and innovation actions taken to fight the coronavirus and contributes to the Commission’s overall action to prevent, mitigate and respond to the impact of the virus and its variants, in line with the new European bio-defence preparedness plan HERA Incubator.
The 11 short-listed projects involve 312 research teams from 40 countries, including 38 participants from 23 countries outside of the EU.
Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “The European Union has been taking strong action to fight the coronavirus crisis. Today we are stepping up our research efforts to meet the challenges and threats that coronavirus variants present. By supporting these new research projects and reinforcing and opening relevant research infrastructures, we continue to fight this pandemic as well as prepare for future threats.”
Most of the projects will support clinical trials for new treatments and vaccines, as well as the development of large scale, coronavirus cohorts and networks beyond Europe’s borders, forging links with European initiatives. Other projects will reinforce and widen access to the research infrastructures providing services, or needed to share data, expertise, and research resources among researchers, to enable research addressing coronavirus and its variants. These infrastructures include those already active such as the European COVID-19 Data Platform and the relevant European Life Science Research Infrastructures.
The successful consortia will collaborate with other relevant initiatives and projects at national, regional, and international level to maximise synergies and complementarity and avoid duplication of the research efforts. They will contribute to building the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), which will enable the EU to anticipate and better tackle future pandemics.
In February, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the start of a European bio-defence preparedness plan HERA Incubator aimed at preparing Europe for an increased threat of coronavirus variants. The HERA Incubator will bring together science, industry and public authorities, and leverage all available resources to enable Europe to respond to this challenge.
In April, the Commission announced the new calls for urgent research into coronavirus variants with an initial budget of €123 million mobilised as part of the first emergency funding under Horizon Europe. Although funding for these 11 projects is conditional on a final Commission decision, and the signature of the Horizon Europe Grant Agreements in the coming months, the research teams can already start their work.
The Commission has been at the forefront of supporting research and innovation and coordinating European and global research efforts, including preparedness for pandemics. It pledged €1.4 billion to the Coronavirus Global Response, of which €1 billion comes from Horizon 2020, the previous EU research and innovation programme (2014-2020). The new projects will complement those previously funded under Horizon 2020 to fight the pandemic.