How Horizon 2020 Will Boost Productivity in Europe

Huawei’s David Harmon on Governments and Digital Inclusion

The average investment in Europe in the field of research is 2%. This falls somewhat behind the Americans and the Chinese by quite a margin. This year China will be investing 2.5% per cent GDP into research activities and the USA will be investing circa 2.85%.

That said, some European countries such as Germany, Sweden and Finland do invest substantially more than 2% in research, with Sweden, for example, investing 4% GDP.

Growing Political Support to Fund Research

EU Governments, the European Commission and the European Parliament recognise that stronger investment in research, innovation and science programmes will improve economic competitiveness in Europe.

The EU Horizon 2020 research, innovation and science programme is worth 80 billion euro and runs between the years 2014-2020. A minimum of €16 billion of this figure is allocated for research activities covering the information communications technology (ICT) sector. Horizon 2020 supports collaborative research engagement so as to develop 5G. This will be the next standard for mobile communications and it will help to bring self-driving cars into reality, deliver human taxi drones and introduce to the marketplace more powerful high definition video services.

The development of cloud computing innovation is backed under Horizon 2020. In essence, this means how people can better use the internet for the provision of new services. An example of cloud computing would be how multiples of people can use e-government services simultaneously.

Horizon 2020 allocates resources to develop new technologies in the heath area such as promoting the better use of robots to help elderly and infirm people to carry out their daily activities in their homes.

Horizon Europe 2020-2027

There is strong support in Europe to increase funding for Horizon Europe. This is the next EU research, innovation and science programme and it will run between the years 2020-2027. The European Commission has proposed an indicative budget of €100 billion for Horizon Europe. The European Parliament wants to increase funding for Horizon Europe over this next financial programming period. We should recall for a moment that International organisations such as the OECD, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund all point to the fact that investment in research, innovation, and science delivers stronger economic and social returns for society.

Technology Elements of Horizon Europe

Support for technological research features prominently within Horizon Europe.

Examples of areas that will secure strong funding over the next seven years include the following:-

  • Supercomputing, artificial intelligence, photonics, and measures to make ICT infrastructures more secure.

Super computers are very important because they can better structure the use of what is an exponential growth of data traffic over the internet. This is very important in developing, for example, the financial services industry.

Advances in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) will help in the self-management of telecom networks and AI is a central component in the delivery of self-driving cars. The development of the photonics sector will help to better transmit data such as high definition video over telecom networks via the use of light. The security of ICT infrastructures is vitally important because if people do not have trust in these systems, they will not use the services that are offered over these telecom networks.

The reality is that information communications technology (ICT) is not a stand-alone industry anymore. It is an enabler to bring into the marketplace new services that are connected to the energy, health, education, manufacturing and smart city sectors. 

Innovation in Horizon Europe

It is great to see that a greater level of support to develop innovative services and products is enshrined within the structures of Horizon Europe. The European Innovation Council will be strengthened. This will help Europe to become a strong frontrunner in the creation of market innovation.

When it comes to a better use of technology in the delivery of new products – research and innovation are two side of the same coin. But financial support for basic scientific effort must be strong. Otherwise one will not be able to effectively place new ICT related products into the marketplace. That is why it is very welcome news that the EU will continue to financially support the European Research Council and the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie research actions under the next financial perspective 2020-2027.

Huawei Technologies employs 80,000 researchers and scientists. As one of the most innovative companies in the world, Huawei understands that it cannot succeed unless it invests substantially in the field of basic scientific activity such as in the field of mathematical algorithms, material sciences and energy efficiencies.

Broader principles of Horizon Europe

It is clear that Horizon Europe wants to tighten the links between researchers, industry and educational bodies. Hence the increased financial backing for the European Institute of Technology that is headquartered in Budapest in Hungary.

Enhancing partnership between the research and industry communities is a common theme that runs through the proposed programmes under Horizon Europe.

Equally, Horizon Europe is supporting international co-operation and broader international collaborative actions. This makes eminent sense. If one wants to deliver the most innovative products into the marketplace, then one should co-operate with the best talent – wherever that talent lies. Researchers, scientists and engineers from the USA, Asia, Africa and the Middle East must continue to work together – if the most innovative products and services are to be developed.

Horizon Europe is a very progressive policy instrument. It will serve the needs of Europe, her people and the broader global community in both a practical and in an innovative manner. It will deliver stronger economic development and help tackle pertinent social problems.

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