The European Commission is increasing efforts to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis and address the need for additional funding for research and development of treatments and vaccines.
To help out EU researchers, the commission announced an extension to the deadline for Horizon 2020 grant applications. EU commissioner for research and innovation Mariya Gabriel said all deadlines between 17 March and 15 April are postponed by one week. This exemption does not apply to proposals for the projects funded through Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot calls.
Additionally, the EU recommends authorities in member states invoke force majeure clauses that would enable them to postpone planned activities in the EU’s exchange programme Erasmus+ and to increase costs incurred by the outbreak.
Apart from relaxing deadlines, EU institutions are adding to the growing number of funding opportunities for research and development of COVID-19 vaccines and cures.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) will use its InnovFin Infectious Disease Finance Facility, to finance research on halting the spread of COVID-19, and on treatments and vaccine development. The funding is in addition to €40 billion in emergency funding to support the economy through the crisis.
As early as January, the commission announced a “pop-up” funding opportunity with a budget of €10 million for research projects working on prevention, drugs and vaccines. It has since supplemented the fund by another €37.5 million.
Earlier this month, the commission put forward a €45 million budget for IMI to use in the development of treatments. In total, the amount of funding for coronavirus research, mobilised from Horizon 2020 and the industry through IMI, could reach almost €140 million. The budget is expected to encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest at least as much on public-private projects against the virus.
The commission is also giving out €164 million to start-ups and small and medium sized companies with technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring or other aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak.