The European Commission Research and Innovation Response to COVID-19

The European Commission has responded to COVID-19 through investment in European research and innovation capabilities, providing additional finance to support research, while encouraging open access of resources available through existing projects and networks.

In addition to responding to COVID-19 directly they have supported current grant holders, those preparing applications by proactively providing guidance and flexibility and details of new funding opportunities via the European Research Area (ERA) corona platform.

Investment in Research and Innovation

Emergency funding has recently been provided through the Horizon 2020 programme supporting vaccine development, treatment and diagnostics (€48.2 million) and therapeutics and diagnostics (€72m via the IMI Programme). 

An additional €150m was added to the recent EIC Accelerator call, encouraging SMEs with technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring or other aspects of the Coronavirus outbreak to apply.

The projects awarded through the vaccine development, treatment and diagnostics call includes I-MOVE-COVID-19, a collaboration which  brings together NHS National Services Scotland with 19 other European partners in a Multidisciplinary European network for research, prevention and control of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This was one of 18 research projects to be shortlisted for funding.

Other activities have included a pan-European hackathon to connect civil society, innovators, partners, and investors across Europe in order to develop innovative solutions for coronavirus-related challenges. Over 30,000 people from across the EU and beyond submitted 2,164 projects, with 117 finalists invited to the upcoming EUvsVirus Matchathon on the 22-25 May

€50 million of additional funding has also been provided to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which is funding the development of vaccines; €25.25 million to the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) and €6.99 million for projects overseen by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

The Commission will also invest €15.5 million in a new research infrastructure to collect population health data from across the EU. This will be part of the European Health Data Space, a plan by the commission to connect health databases from all member states.  

€400 million of finance has also been guaranteed through the European Investment Bank, supporting pre-commercial stage investments in COVID-19 (including scale-up of related production facilities).

Access to Infrastructures and Resources

Projects funded through the Horizon 2020 programme, notably through the Research Infrastructures pillar are being used globally to combat COVID-19, either through providing access to resources or calling for wider collaborations. The areas supported include the European Virus Archive (EVA-Global), The EXSCALATE platform (the Italian Supercomputer in CINECA, analysing COVID-19 proteins) and Access to technical vaccine development services at no cost (TRANSVAC2),

ESFRI, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure is also helping the scientific community by aggregating information about dedicated services offered by Research Infrastructures and communicating all relevant actions as broadly as possible. To this end, ESFRI has created this focused webpage that lists and provides quick links to the information gathered.

Richard Buxbaum - Scotland Europa - NCP Services