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Finance Minister highlights importance of EU funding programmes to drive economic growth

Over £40,000 has been invested in 18 organisations across Wales to help them forge collaborations with European partners to access the EU’s research and innovation funding programme – Horizon 2020, Finance Minister Jane Hutt said . 

The Finance Minister addressed the UK and Ireland Annual Conference of the Enterprise Europe Network which brings together all UK and Irish partners to discuss how best to maximise participation in international trade, technology development and a range of EU managed funding programmes, including Horizon 2020 which is worth €79bn across EU regions.

Last year, the Welsh Government set up a fund called SCoRE Cymru (Supporting Collaborative Research and innovation in Europe), to help Welsh organisations involved in cutting-edge research and innovation to develop competitive, collaborative bids so they can benefit from the multi-billion Horizon 2020 funding programme.

One year on, organisations such as Mackworth Healthcare based in Bridgend and Phytovation in Caernarfon have received support through SCoRE Cymru. The funding is helping them prepare competitive Horizon 2020 bids for collaborative projects which, if successful, will develop a novel system for the early detection of cancer and research into plant growth to help farmers increase yield production.

Finance Minister Jane Hutt said:

"Research and innovation is vital to the global competitiveness of the Welsh economy and so it is very important that we provide the support needed to help organisations maximise the opportunities for collaborative research and technological development through EU funding programmes, such as the European Structural Funds and Horizon 2020. These schemes can help build strong foundations upon which Wales can drive forward its Knowledge Economy and help secure growth and jobs."

The Minister also announced the publication of CM International’s Scoping Study report, commissioned by the Welsh Government, to determine how best to help Welsh organisations access Horizon 2020.  She said:

"The report endorses the approach we have taken in working alongside key stakeholders, such as EEN, across Wales, the UK and Europe to identify and maximise the opportunities available to Welsh organisations in Horizon 2020. It also recognises the value and supports the continuation of SCoRE Cymru.

"We are considering a number of actions in response to the recommendations in the report, including the role that the EU Structural Funds can play so we can help more organisations across Wales drive forward their innovative ideas, access Horizon 2020 funds, and achieve commercial success."

Amongst the speakers at the conference will be Steve Dalton OBE, Managing Director, Sony UK Technology Centre, Bridgend; Rosa Wilkinson, Innovation Director, Intellectual Property Office and Lesley Batchelor, Director General of Institute of Export and senior members of the European Commission.

The conference has been organised by Swansea University and BIC Innovation who are responsible for the delivery of Enterprise Europe Network in Wales, which is the largest business network in the world assisting SMEs to identify suitable transnational partners to transfer technology, open up new markets and compete for collaborative research funding under Horizon 2020.

Dafydd Davies, Chief Executive of BIC Innovation said:

"We are delighted that Finance Minister Jane Hutt is opening our conference today when we welcome colleagues from across UK, Ireland, and Brussels to discuss how we work together to help SMEs become more innovative and internationally focused."

Ceri Jones, Director of Research and Innovation at Swansea University commented:

“Swansea University is working with a number of SMEs helping them to collaborate with other partners to access European funds.  We will also be helping innovative SMEs apply for funding under the EU’s new dedicated SME Instrument which will help fill the gap in funding for early stage and high risk research."

SCoRE Cymru can provide organisations with up to £1,000 for the travel costs incurred in building partnerships for the EU’s Horizon 2020 funding programme and up to £10,000 for Horizon 2020 bid writing costs.

Channel website: https://www.icaew.com

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