Four key ways that the EU supports manufacturing R&D

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Later today, the Science Minister will talk about the role that global research partnerships play in supporting UK science. There’s a preview available in the Times.

As Jo Johnson notes, the EU plays a valuable role in supporting UK science. But its role extends further than this as well, supporting private sector research and development. This blog takes a look at how the EU contributes to innovation in the UK's manufacturing sector.

European research funding offers an example of how the EU can get it right.”  - Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science


1. The EU facilitates collaborative relationships

Collaboration is increasingly important for innovation in manufacturing.

  • 61% of manufacturers say that working with others is increasingly important for successful innovation.
  • Half of manufacturers have worked with an overseas partner.
  • One third of the smallest manufacturers worked with an overseas partner.  

Although manufacturers are already forming these partnerships, it is not easy. Manufacturers tell us that finding the right partner is particularly challenging. European support can help ease the process of international collaboration. For example, one SME member of EEF told us that they had been approached by a large company who wanted to access FP7 funding but needed an SME partner.

2. The EU provides access to funding streams

Innovation is a resource-intensive activity, and additional funding can help manufacturers to do more.

  • The UK has traditionally received around 15% of Framework Programme funds. Meaning the UK stands to receive €11bn from Horizon2020.
  • Industry should do better in Horizon 2020 than it has done in previous programmes as it has an increased industrial focus. The percentage of funds going to industry has increased from 24% to 28%.
  • SMEs are benefiting increasingly from Horizon 2020. The new dedicated SME instrument means there is more support available for them and it is simpler to access. UK SMEs are currently receiving around 15% of funds.

3. Access to a large customer base

For manufacturers the top reason for innovating is to satisfy their customers. The EU makes access to customers more straightforward through the free movement of people. The single market provides straightforward access to one of the largest markets in the world.

4. EU funding streams complement UK support

The EU's multi-year framework programmes provide stability and certainty about support that is available. This is valuable for ensuring awareness and uptake of support by the private sector and is especially relevant at a time when national support is undergoing changes.

EU support represents an additional source of funds, sometimes at a larger scale than domestic support.


If you’d like to learn more, you can see the evidence we gave yesterday to the House of Lords select committee on science and technology.


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