PONS IP, in partnership with PKF Attest Inncome and the participation of the CDTI, the University Carlos III of Madrid and mobility consultant PONS Seguridad Vial, held an online meeting to address how the global pandemic and economic crisis have affected the operation of calls and projects in the Horizon 2020 European Framework Program for Research and Innovation, as well as the keys that will shape the next Horizon Europe Framework Program, which is officially scheduled to start on January 1, 2021.
María Prieto, PKF Attest innCome partner, together with PONS IP’s General Manager, Nuria Marcos, welcomed the nearly 200 attendees to the meeting, where the Head of PONS IP reminded them of the opportunity that calls offered for helping innovative companies ‘in a context in which it will be more important than ever to know about European funding sources, so that Spanish companies can get sufficient funds to help them get their projects off the ground’.
Juan Antonio Tébar Chumillas, Director of European Programs and Regional Cooperation at CDTI, provided a broad overview of the response that is currently being given by the European Union, in coordination with the European Commission and the MSs, to promote and offer financial cover for R&D+i actions aimed at combating COVID-19. Among the lines of work opened up, through the framework established in the ERAvsCorona Action Plan, numerous initiatives were presented within the already existing Framework Programs, as well as the creation of new funding schemes, new support and participation lines in this action plan broken down into 10 specific lines of action to move ahead with both the development of the future vaccine and the production of healthcare material.
To date, through the European Investment Bank, 240 million euros have been mobilized from the Innovation Plan for SMEs and biotechnology companies, while in the Equity Plan 210 million euros have been used to boost the financial capacity of companies involved in the fight against the pandemic. Finally, the Head of European Programs and Regional Cooperation at CDTI shared the ‘COVID-19 Seal of Excellence’ initiative, with specific funding lines for both basic and applied research, which is to be continued in the next Horizon Europe Framework Program.
Next, the webinar touched on a success story, the Labyrinth project, headed by the University Carlos III of Madrid together with a large consortium of Spanish and European companies for the development of technologies linked to mobility monitoring and control.
Luis Enrique Moreno Lorente, a researcher from the University Carlos III of Madrid and project coordinator, highlighted the importance, when presenting a funding project in the EU, ‘of being careful in the selection of partners, analyzing their expertise in the fields of action and their contribution of value to the proposals, and that they be adapted as much as possible to the terms of the call, relying at all times on the expertise and advice of the CDTI when it comes to advising on the project idea’.
Ana Gómez Arche, CEO of PONS Seguridad Vial, a partner in the consortium, highlighted their role as an SME in a major project on a European level and the opportunity that these calls represent for other companies with the same profile: ‘If you have in-depth knowledge of a subject either directly or indirectly related to innovation, as is our case with regulatory issues, certifications and local regulations, with the right partners, it is possible to go a long way in the Horizon 2020 projects and, of course, in future Horizon Europe projects’.
Gloria Villar Acevedo, Head of the European Projects Office at PONS IP, took the opportunity to highlight the issues related to intellectual property rights in European projects, both at the initial stage of setting up the consortium and at the exploitation stage of R&D+i results generated in this innovation project. According to Villar, ‘The issues of IPR (IP Rights) are subject to evaluation when assessing the impact and feasibility of the proposal. If we also take into account that both public and private entities usually exist side by side in consortia, it is essential to have a well-organized prior plan regarding intellectual property rights and also personal data usage and processing during the project. All this will contribute to a successful Exploitation Plan of R&D+i results and will therefore ensure that important expected impact for the project’.
Alessa Pardavé, European Projects Consultant and Jaime Lara, Consultant and Head of Communications at PKF Attest innCome, drew the meeting to a close with a practical presentation on how to structure, impact and disseminate proposals. They both identified evaluation criteria in terms of excellence, impact level and implementation as ‘fundamental’, emphasizing the increasing relevance of sustainability criteria and separation of communication from dissemination in separate plans when applying projects to European funding project proposals.