Stepping up research to tackle the pandemicEuropost , Brussels
Research and innovation will have a key role for getting over the coronavirus pandemic and for coping with its long-term sequels, EU research ministers said during their informal videoconference on Tuesday afternoon, organised by the Croatian Presidency of the Council.
Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth also took part.
Reaching out to our researchers and innovators in the fight against the Covid-19 has never been more crucial in our lifetime, said Blaženka Divjak, Croatian Minister of Research and Education, at a videoconference after the meeting. She explained that all ministers were determined to coordinate “our actions aimed at optimising the conditions in which our scientists work for our collective wellbeing”.
Only with the help of researchers and scientists, the EU will be able to answer a series of current global challenges, namely creation of vaccine and boosting economies recovering in shortest possible stretch. “More than ever, scientists have become irreplaceable advisors to decision-makers in a number of areas, from health to education and economy”, the Council notes. Research Ministers expressed support for a first set of 10 actions, which can be implemented at EU level shortly.
Commissioner Gabriel pointed out that research and innovation are providing the hope and scientific knowledge needed to combat the coronavirus. “For a stronger impact even closer cooperation across the EU and beyond is necessary.”
She underlined some of the urgent measures that the EU Commission has taken in research and innovation domain since January. The executive quickly mobilised funding from Horizon 2020 to support emergency research and selected 18 projects to receive €48.5m in a fast track procedure. Thanks to this funding now in Europe and beyond we are having 140 research teams that are already working on vaccines, treatment, diagnostic tests and medical systems, Commissioner Gabriel specified.
Other €164m dedicated for SMEs and startups came through the European Innovation Council. Already 4000 applications for innovative solutions were received, 1000 of them coronavirus-related, and the evaluation process is underway.
Up to €90m, public and private money, were mobilised through the Innovative Medicine Initiative, a PPP between the EC and the pharmaceutical industry. In March, together with EIB, the Commission mobilised €80m of financial support to CureVac, a highly innovative German developer, to scale up creation and production of a vaccine against the coronavirus. “Much more is going on in the Commission and in the Member States,” Commissioner Gabriel expounded.