Earlier this week, we looked at EU funding to the most deprived areas of the South West. What about EU funding and the other end of the spectrum?
Horizon 2020 is the EU Research and Innovation programme for 2014 – 2020 following on from the FP7 programme. In the South West, Bristol and Swindon are amongst the largest UK recipients of Horizon 2020 research grants currently allocated, both at around €60 million so far for this period.
During the FP7 period (2007-2013) Bristol University received a whopping €142,263,470 in research funding, making it the 8th highest recipient of EU research funding in the UK higher education sector! Across the West Country, a total of 1,155 proposals were retained for funding (25.4% of total applicants from the region) involving 1,310 successful applicants and requesting €393,95m of EC financial contribution. This made the South West the 7th most successful individual region of all those in the EU 28 member states for research grant applications. The region received just under €600 million during the FP7 period, with a further €44 million to SMEs during that time too!
There are great examples of EU-funded projects right across our region. For example a North Dorset based company was awarded funds under the LIFE programme to develop an environment-friendly repair system for leaking sewage and rainwater/surface drainage pipes, while Dorset County Council received funding for a collaborative project focused on coastal zone management and the development of a strategy for an open coast. Poole-based charity the RNLI received funding to develop a system for decommissioning lifeboats and reducing carbon footprint of the organisation.
In Devon, there have been a whole series of funded projects. For example, Exeter City Council received a grant to undertake a housing refurbishment for a number of hard-to-treat, unoccupied properties in poor structural condition. The funding improved the energy efficiency, reducing the predicted annual energy costs by over £500 and saving over 3 tons of CO2/year per property.
Another great EU-funded project is based on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus near Falmouth. The Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) is a £30 million interdisciplinary centre leading cutting-edge research into solutions to problems of environmental change.
And in Bristol, the National Composite Centre (NCC), based at Bristol and Bath Science Park, was developed with ERDF funding of £9 million to put the UK at the forefront of composites technology. The NCC is a purpose-built research and development facility which brings together dynamic companies and academics to develop technologies supporting the design and rapid manufacture of composite products. Advanced composites are lightweight, high-performance materials which are transforming the design and manufacture of products – from those used in the aerospace and automotive industries, to marine and renewable technologies. By reducing the weight of products, there can be significant reductions in carbon emissions and manufacturing costs, offering huge commercial opportunities and technological advantages.Not only is this ERDF investment expected to generate over 150 additional jobs, but the South West is now seen as a leader in this field, and the NCC is being expanded to attract ideas and research that will result in new products, businesses and jobs.
Here in the South West we are so often leading the way towards a more sustainable future, despite the challenges, and we must continue to make best use of the opportunity that EU Funding Programmes represent to our region.
In the European Parliament, the Greens/European Free Alliance MEPs group have produced this helpful guide to accessing EU funding opportunities, which we would encourage businesses and other organisations across the South West to read and share. With the current government hell bent on cutting spending, there’s no guarantee these streams will be replaced in the event we leave the EU or what their priorities might be.
You can find a comprehensive breakdown of EU funds to the South West on our Resources page.