On January 9th, the European Commission launched the new, €200 million Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) pilot initiative to promote innovation by reducing the time it takes to bring innovative ideas to market.
Over the next two years, the pilot initiative will be open to all types of participants, particularly from industry, while stimulating first-time applications from industry and SMEs to Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation funding programme. Projects funded under the pilot are to be ‘business-driven’ to ensure promising innovative ideas are exploited faster.
Speaking at a conference in Brussels, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas said: “In the sprint to launch innovative ideas, the winners are those who seize market opportunities first. The new Fast Track to Innovation pilot will help highly innovative businesses in Europe reach the finish line faster, attracting more private investors to European research and innovation and fast-tracking our global competitiveness.”
The FTI Pilot will be implemented in 2015-2016 as a new initiative under Horizon 2020. It has a budget of €200 million across the Horizon 2020 priority “Societal Challenges” and the specific objective “Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEITs)”, without further restrictions to topics. This thematic openness – combined with the possibility for all kinds of innovation actors to work together and deliver innovation onto the market and/or into society – will nurture trans-disciplinary and cross-sector cooperation for growth through innovation.
The Fast Track to Innovation pilot aims to support mature innovative concepts that have been tested in an operational environment. Activities supported include systems validation in real working conditions, testing, piloting, business model validation as well as standard setting and pre-normative research.
The pilot will be implemented through one common and continuously open call. Proposals can be submitted at any time with three cut-off dates in 2015: 29 April, 1 September and 1 December. Continuation of the Fast Track to Innovation beyond 2016 will depend on the results of an in-depth evaluation of the scheme.
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