Local Businesses Encouraged to Tap into €79billion Funding Programme


Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry came together today to urge local businesses to stake their claim in Horizon 2020, a new €79billion research and development fund launched today by the European Commission.

Arlene Foster and Stephen Farry met the new Horizon 2020 NI Contact Point (NICP) network and were told of plans to ensure that NI companies and researchers can be successful in winning over €100million from the competitive fund.

The network, which has recently been established with funding from DETI, DEL and DARD, provides direct support to potential applicants across industry, academia and the public sector. The Horizon 2020 Contact Point Network includes Queen’s University, the University of Ulster, Invest NI, AFBI, InterTradeIreland and Brussels based NI staff.

Horizon 2020 funding will be awarded to collaborative consortia from across the EU in areas such as ICT, health, agri-food, energy and social sciences.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said: “Horizon 2020 represents a key opportunity for new funding for innovation and research and development which is critical in driving economic growth. To help local organisations to become much more successful in winning funding from this key European initiative, my department has produced a Northern Ireland action plan. The actions have been devised to ensure that Northern Ireland applicants, and specifically our SMEs, are fully supported in competing in this new funding programme.”

Central to this enhanced support has been the appointment of Research Experts, known as Northern Ireland Contact Points (NICPs), who are already working directly with companies and research organisations who want to engage in Horizon 2020. In addition a new Horizon 2020 app has been developed by InterTrade Ireland.

Arlene Foster added: “The new app which I have launched today, will be of real benefit to applicants from Northern Ireland as they look to be kept informed of Horizon 2020 opportunities and also identify potential partners from the Republic of Ireland.”

Minister Farry, whose Department along with DETI have jointly established the £1.8million EU – Higher Education Support Fund to support the appointment of the new NICP’s at Queen’s University and the University of Ulster, said: “Horizon 2020 provides an important opportunity for our economy and in particular our universities. By combining our world class research base excellence with the experience and knowledge of these new NI Contact Points, I believe that Northern Ireland will reap the rewards of participating to the fullest extent in the Horizon 2020 programme."

As part of the new Horizon 2020 Contact Point network DARD is funding a NICP to work specifically with the agri-food industry. Minister O’Neill commented: “Going for Growth recognises the importance of research and innovation in growing the agri-food sector and calls for a significant increase in draw down of EU innovation funding. Horizon 2020 represents a valuable opportunity for us to do that. It has the potential to support business and research organisations to solve problems and stimulate growth and job creation.”