The European Commission has announced the mobilisation of an additional €122 million under its Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme for urgent coronavirus research projects. This new call for expression of interest contributes to the Commission’s €1.4 billion commitment to the Global Coronavirus Response Initiative, launched on 4 May 2020. Please note that the deadline for submission of proposals is 11 June 2020.
This call for proposals is in addition to a series of EU-funded research and innovation actions to combat coronavirus and complements previous actions to develop diagnostics, treatments and vaccines by strengthening manufacturing and deployment capacities for immediately accessible solutions to respond rapidly to urgent needs. It will also aim to improve understanding of the behavioural and socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
The projects funded under this call for proposals should help to reorient manufacturing industry towards the rapid production of vital medical supplies and equipment needed for screening, treatment and prevention, as well as to develop medical technologies and digital tools to improve detection, monitoring and patient care. The new research will gather information from large groups of patients (cohorts) across Europe, while a better understanding of the behavioural and socio-economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic could help improve treatment and prevention strategies.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said :
“We are mobilising all the means at our disposal to fight this pandemic through screening, treatment and prevention. However, to defeat the coronavirus, we also need to understand how it affects our society and how best to deploy these interventions rapidly. We need to explore technological solutions to speed up the manufacture of medical equipment and supplies, to monitor and prevent the spread of the disease, and to improve patient care.
Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton added:
“We are supporting health authorities, health professionals and the general public in all Member States in tackling the coronavius crisis. To this end, we are deploying innovative technologies and instruments that can be used quickly to prevent the disease, treat it optimally, recover from this pandemic and prepare for the period afterwards. These tools include digital solutions and technologies such as telemedicine, data, artificial intelligence, robotics and photonics.
The deadline for submission of proposals is 11 June 2020, as this call is focused on achieving results quickly. Europe and the world as a whole urgently need innovative solutions to contain and mitigate the pandemic, and to improve care for patients, survivors, vulnerable groups, frontline health workers and their communities. This is why the Commission intends to encourage the launch of research as soon as possible by speeding up the expressions of interest and their evaluation.
New solutions must be available and affordable to all, in line with the principles of the global response to coronavirus. To this end, the Commission will include, in the grant agreements following this new call, rapid data sharing clauses in the grant agreements ensuring that the findings and results can be used immediately.
This new special call for proposals under the Horizon 2020 programme complements the previous actions in support of 18 projects with a budget of EUR 48.2 million for the development of diagnostics, treatments, vaccines and epidemic preparedness, an investment of EUR 117 million in 8 projects focusing on diagnosis and treatment, under the Innovative Medicines Initiative, as well as measures to support innovative ideas through the European Innovation Council. It implements Action 3 of the ERAvsCorona Action Plan, a working document resulting from dialogues between Commission services and national institutions.
The new call will cover five areas and will include the following indicative budgets:
- Reorientation of production towards vital medical supplies and equipment (EUR 23m)
- Medical technologies, digital tools and artificial intelligence analysis to improve monitoring and care at high levels of technological maturity (EUR 56 million)
- Behavioural, social and economic impacts of pandemic responses (EUR 20 million)
- Europe-wide VIDOC-19 cohorts (EUR 20 million)
- Collaboration of existing international and European cohorts for VIDOC-19 (‘3 million)
Cohort studies generally observe large groups of individuals, recording their exposure to certain risk factors to detect clues about possible causes of the disease. They may be prospective studies that collect data for the future, or retrospective cohort studies that examine data already collected.