Image Credit: European Commission
EU Funding Initiatives Against Coronavirus
The European Union and its member states are working around the clock to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. EU leaders have agreed on a number of funding priorities to coordinate the EU’s response to COVID-19:
- limiting the spread of the virus
- ensuring the provision of medical equipment
- boosting research for treatments and vaccines
- supporting jobs, businesses and the economy
The EU has always played a central role in supporting and coordinating research on infectious diseases, with €4 billion invested from 2007 to 2019 through the 7th Framework Programme.
On 4 May 2020, the EU and its partners hosted an international pledging conference which has until now raised €9.8 billion in pledges from donors worldwide to kick-start global research and development. This includes a pledge of €1.4 billion from the EU Commission, of which €1 billion comes from Horizon 2020.
Among the largest amounts of EU funding pledged and already mobilised under Horizon 2020 to contribute to the Coronavirus Global Response, the following calls have been launched:
- Societal Challenge 1 (Health) – Calls for research and innovation to develop diagnostics, treatments and vaccines – 41 projects to be supported – total of €148.2 million.
- Contribution to Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) – total of €100 million.
- Reinforcement of InnovFin Infection Diseases Financial Facility (IDFF) – total of €325.1 million.
Horizon 2020 calls for proposals
The annual work programmes of Horizon 2020 already include topics on the understanding, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases, as well as on the preparedness of health care systems for outbreaks. For instance, the SC1 (Health) 2020 work programme includes a topic on addressing low vaccine uptake.
Emergency funding was mobilised on 30 January 2020, on 19 May 2020 for the following two special calls (“requests for expressions of interest”) for research projects:
First Horizon 2020 call for expression of interest (March 2020)
The first call aimed to advance the understanding of the novel coronavirus epidemic, contribute to more efficient clinical management of patients infected with the virus, as well as public health preparedness and response. It allowed 18 projects to be funded for a total of €48.5 million. The projects, which involved 151 research teams from across Europe and beyond, have started working on developing diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines, as well as improving preparedness and response.
Second Horizon 2020 call for expression of interest (September 2020)
The second call is supporting innovative and rapid health-related approaches to respond to COVID-19 and to deliver quick results for society for a higher level of preparedness of health systems.
This will enable some 23 new projects to be shortlisted for a total funding of €128.2 million. The projects which will involve research teams from all countries in Europe and beyond, will work on:
- repurposing of manufacturing for vital medical supplies and equipment
- medical technologies
- digital tools and Artificial Intelligence analytics to improve surveillance and care
- behavioural, social and economic impacts of the outbreak
- collaboration of existing EU and international cohorts of relevance to COVID-19
See at the following link European Commission research projects on Coronavirus.
Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)
Research on infectious (as well as non-communicable) diseases is supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership between the EU and the pharmaceutical industry through the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).
On 3 March 2020, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) launched a special fast-track call for the “Development of therapeutics and diagnostics combatting coronavirus infections” with an EU contribution of €45 million, which was subsequently increased to €72 million.
The pharmaceutical industry, IMI Associated Partners and other organisations will contribute an additional €45 million, bringing the total funding to €117 million. On 12 May 2020, following the independent evaluation of proposals, it was announced that 8 projects were short-listed for funding. These projects involve researchers from 94 organisations across Europe, including universities, research organisations, companies, and public bodies. Small and medium-sized enterprises are particularly well represented in the successful proposals, accounting for over 20% of participants. The projects form part of the European Commission’s wider response to the coronavirus outbreak. Among these:
- 5 projects are on diagnostics and will develop devices that can be used anywhere and will deliver results very quickly, to help reduce risk of further spread.
- 3 projects are on therapies that address primarily the current COVID-19 outbreak, but also foresee efforts to prepare for future coronavirus outbreaks.
New IMI calls for proposals are expected to be published in September 2020 with a submission deadline by mid November 2020.
See at the following link new IMI research projects on Coronavirus.
EIC Accelerator Pilot
On 8 June 2020 the Commission awarded nearly €166 million, via the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Pilot, to 36 companies set to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, 139 companies tackling the coronavirus that could not receive funding in this round due to budget limitations have received the newly introduced COVID-19 Seal of Excellence, in recognition of the value of their proposal and in order to help them attract support from other funding sources.
The next deadline for EIC Accelerator Pilot submissions is 7 October 2020.
See at the following links: EU grants €314 million to innovative companies to combat the virus and support recovery and EIC Accelerator funded projects.
EIT RawMaterials Booster Call COVID-19
The European Institute of Technology (EIT) RawMaterials Booster Call COVID-19 aims to provide up to €200.000 in funding for high-growth start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs during the crisis, as well as help adapt and accelerate in the post-crisis economy. Start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs affected by the economic consequences of the pandemic, as well as the businesses contributing to mitigate technological, market and value chain challenges connected to the global crisis, are encouraged to apply for the call.
The Booster Call supports new businesses that contribute to the EIT RawMaterials vision to develop raw materials into a major strength for Europe. This includes activities along the entire raw materials value chain from exploration, mining and mineral processing to substitution, recycling and circular economy.
The first batch of application deadlines was 12 June 2020. An additional call will be opened later this year with a deadline in January 2021.
European Commission and European Investment Bank (EIB) financing for vaccine development
On 6 July 2020 the EIB and CureVac signed a €75 million loan agreement for the development and large-scale production of vaccines, including CureVac’s vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2. The funding comes from the EIB working in collaboration with the European Commission, through the InnovFin financing mechanism, and will help accelerate development of a vaccine.
On 16 August 2020 financing was offered to CureVac, an innovative vaccines company with a potential messenger RNA based vaccine for coronavirus.
See at the following link [Video]: EU and CureVac join forces in search for a coronavirus vaccine.
State aid to accelerate research, testing and production of coronavirus relevant products
On 3 April 2020, the Commission extended the Temporary Framework to enable EU countries to deploy state aid in order to accelerate research, testing and production of coronavirus relevant products, to protect jobs and to further support the economy during the coronavirus outbreak.
The amendment Temporary Framework now enables Member States to give up to the nominal value of €800 000 per company, zero-interest loans, guarantees on loans covering 100% of the risk, or provide equity. This can be combined also with so-called de minimis aid (to bring the aid per company to up to €1 million) and with other types of aid. It should be particularly useful to address urgent liquidity needs of small and medium-sized enterprises in a very speedy manner.
The amendment Temporary Framework will be in place until the end of December 2020.
The European Investments Fund (EIF) response measures to the COVID-19 pandemic
Based on the €1 billion unlocked from the Investment Plan for Europe/EFSI, the EIF is providing guarantees worth €2.2 billion to financial intermediaries, unlocking €8 billion in available financing for European SMEs and small mid-caps. The calls for expression of interest as well as the updated terms were published on 6 April 2020 on the following pages: www.eif.org/covid-cosme and www.eif.org/covid-innovfin.
In a further step, as of 24 July 2020, the EIF is also providing enhanced terms and conditions for guarantees and counter-guarantees under the EaSI Guarantee Instrument to further support financial intermediaries in providing financing to micro-borrowers, micro-enterprises and social enterprises affected by the crisis. The calls for expression of interest and the updated terms are available here: www.eif.org/covid-easi.
Grant writing support
Innovation Manager can help you to apply for many of the calls listed above to secure EU funding against coronavirus.
Get in touch with us to find out more.
Marco Torregrossa is a public funding and private investments advisor for Innovation Manager Finland Ltd. Follow him at @MarcoTorreg