MEP Alyn Smith urges Scots to seize huge new EU research package

SCOTLAND can “reach for the stars” by seizing its share of a huge Euro funding boost for scientific research, MEP Alyn Smith will claim today (Friday, January 25).

The cash will be particularly useful to Scots universities, companies and research institutions as we already have a world class reputation for innovation, the SNP Euro MP will tell the Royal Society of Edinburgh in a keynote speech.

The new EU initiative, known as Horizon 2020, offers massive opportunities for scientists, technologists and researchers in Scotland and beyond. It will run from 2014 to 2020 and will offer up to 100 billion Euro.

Alyn, who is an SNP Euro MP and sits on the parliament’s agriculture and energy committees, said that the programme would be particularly attractive to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

“Innovation will now be fully included, and more support will be available for those ventures which are closer to market application in addition to those at the research and development stage,” he explained.

“We’ll see a single web portal for all of the projects, simplifying access and reducing the volume of paperwork and bureaucracy in the application process.”

Scotland already had “a good tale to tell, a good record to build on and good experience to learn from” when it came to securing European funding, Alyn added.

“The total amount of funds secured in Scotland from 2007 to April 2012 was around 351 million Euro and 789 Scottish organisations were involved in no less than 4000 projects submitted at EU level.

“We know that more research is conducted in Scotland than in any other country on a lot of the measures that matter, and we know that  Scotland is a research intensive nation.

“We have the highest concentration of universities in Europe with every Scottish institution undertaking world leading research.”

Alyn will warn, though, that ideas generated in Scotland are too often commercialised in other parts of the world - something which must be halted. “Horizon 2020 offers the chance to forge real change for Scotland, by Scotland. Yet too often the ideas are sold to other places for them to make money, and tax revenues, from. That can’t go on forever.”