Can Finland set a new record for winning EU research and innovation funding, Mervi Karikorpi?
Finnish SMEs have managed to win more research and innovation funding from the EU, known as Horizon 2020 funding, than the reference countries, according to a study by Technology Industries of Finland. Never before has Finland achieved such success.
Mervi Karikorpi is Head of EU Innovation and Industrial Policies at Technology Industries of Finland. We asked her if it is worthwhile for companies to participate in EU RDI and investment cooperation.
“Yes, it is. The EU’s RDI and investment cooperation and funding support and accelerate business development. For example, the green transition and digitalisation open the door to new business opportunities for competitive companies in the internal market and globally. Companies’ business strategies are a natural springboard for strengthening European cooperation.”
“The EU’s programmes, cooperation networks and funding instruments help to forge networks with customers and partners and offer opportunities to pool resources and create new expertise and capabilities. EU funding is available for various phases of the innovation process. It reduces business risk by sharing it among partners and, if necessary, can act as a lever for other funding. Companies that engage in long-term EU cooperation could also influence the standards and regulation for new technologies in collaboration with their partners.”
Is Finland a net winner or loser in the EU’s RDI and investment programmes?
“Entities in the Finnish innovation system received a total of EUR 1.5 billion under the Horizon 2020 programme, which was implemented from 2014 to 2020. This is 1.5 times the amount Finland paid into the programme. So we were a net beneficiary. Measured in this way, Finland did better than our traditional reference countries. Finnish companies and other entities are also well involved in the Connecting Europe Facility and projects funded by the EU Innovation and Defence funds.”
“It also matters where and how the funding is used. EU funding is competitive and targeted towards projects that create knowledge, expertise and innovation that can lead to solutions for society’s biggest challenges and create sustainable growth and wellbeing.”
Could Finland increase the amount and impact of EU cooperation?
“Yes, it could. Finland could receive up to EUR 2.9 billion under the Horizon Europe programme from 2021 to 2027. This would be almost twice as much as it obtained from the Horizon 2020 programme. An ambitious but realistic target would be for Finland to attract a total of at least EUR 6 billion in funding from the nine largest EU programmes or funds over the same period.”
“Our goal is for Finnish companies, research institutes and universities to be involved in European cooperation creating international breakthroughs in research and innovation. This will increase the size of Finland’s carbon handprint and boost digital and green exports and value add. For this to occur, we must prioritise our strengths in European and international cooperation, such as smart manufacturing, bio-based and functional materials, 5G/6G, microelectronics and connectivity, quantum technologies, cybersecurity, cleantech, energy efficiency, the circular economy, the hydrogen economy and energy sector integration, the data economy and health technologies.”
What action is needed to reach the targets?
“Companies need help to prepare for cooperation – especially SMEs. We also need to renew our decision-making and structures, as well as the way we contribute to the EU policy-making.”
“The national budget should include a separate budget item and heading for preparing EU projects and national matching funds. This would enable agile decision-making on joining interesting projects. Well-prepared, ambitious projects will find it easier to secure funding, and successful implementations will provide significant benefits.”
“The government should work with businesses and other actors to prepare a strategic agenda and action plan for EU lobbying and co-operation for Finland every year. We must also work with our European partners to ensure that EU funding for RDI and, in particular, business-driven RDI cooperation increases. Genuine competitiveness comes from competition, and this must also be the starting point for EU investment aid. We should make relevant choices and be proactive.”
“In our report, we propose four main objectives for the participation of various actors in Finland and the innovation system in EU RDI and investment cooperation and a set of measures for achieving these objectives.”
What can companies and Technology Industries of Finland do to ensure the most fruitful cooperation in RDI and investments in the EU?
“A lot can be done. Technology companies of all sizes can build strategic partnerships with European and international entities based on their business strategies. When the operating environment changes, it is worth examining the implications of the change for the development of the partnership network.”
“Technology Industries of Finland supports the participation of companies in partnerships under the Horizon Europe programme, such as Made in Europe, Key Digital Technologies, and Chips JU, and joint projects in spearhead technologies with VTT, universities, business networks such as FAMN, Business Finland, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland. Together with out partners we also the participation of companies in other EU initiatives e.g. IPCEIs and initiatives co-funded by the EU Innovation fund.”
“We develop and pilot good practices and tools together with companies and promote the scaling of these throughout Europe and internationally. Examples include Technology Industries of Finland’s templates for data-sharing agreements, digital product passports, and circular economy and biodiversity programmes.”
Where can I find out more about EU programmes and cooperation opportunities?
“The European Commission, Finland’s EU Funding Advisory Service, industrial associations and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment arrange briefings and provide information on current cooperation opportunities in the EU. These are announced on the organisations’ websites.”
Mervi Karikorpi, Head of EU Innovation & Industrial Policies, phone +358 40 7419801, email@example.com, Twitter: @mervikarikorpi
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