The EU Framework Programme | Business Link

Innovation, research and development grants

The Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development is the European Union’s (EU) main instrument for supporting and encouraging collaborative and transnational research, development and innovation in science, engineering and technology.

The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)

FP7 is the current Framework Programme and covers the period from 2007 to 2013.

FP7 consists of four specific programmes:

1. Co-operation – the largest component of FP7, this funds research activities involving transnational co-operation in ten thematic priority areas:

  • health
  • food, agriculture, fisheries and biotechnology
  • information and communication technologies
  • nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies
  • energy
  • environment (including climate change)
  • transport (including aeronautics)
  • socio-economic sciences and the humanities
  • space
  • security

2. Ideas – funding for ‘investigator-driven’ research projects across all fields, carried out by individual teams in European competition and delivered by the European Research Council.

3. People – so-called ‘Marie Curie actions’ and other training initiatives aimed at the mobility of researchers. The budget is greater than previous framework programmes and more emphasis is given to industry-academic transfers.

4. Capacities – the Capacities programme aims to enhance research and innovation capacities throughout Europe in the following areas:

  • support to new and existing research infrastructures
  • research for the benefit of small and medium-sized enterprises
  • regions of knowledge and support for regional research-driven clusters
  • research potential
  • science in society
  • support to the coherent development of research policies
  • international co-operation with third countries

Applying to FP7

The European Commission will invite bids through calls for proposals in each area. The calls, typically one or two each year, specify the areas of research to be supported. They usually give at least three months’ notice of the deadline for submission of a proposal.

The European Commission has produced a guide to European Union (EU) funding opportunities for research and innovation, to help business find the right option among the available EU programmes. Read a guide to relevant funding sources on the Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) website – Opens in a new window.

Proposals need to be of a very high standard to be considered and must meet the objectives and time-scales of the relevant work programme. Your local Business Link adviser can help with the application process. Find your local Business Link through our Contacts Directory.

In Scotland, the Scottish Proposal Assistance Fund (SPAF) provides assistance, in the form of a grant, to help applicants develop project proposals for submission to FP7. Read about SPAF on the Scottish Enterprise website – Opens in a new window.

Within the UK, the Technology Strategy Board provides support for businesses participating in the Framework Programme and other EU research and development activities.

There is also a comprehensive FP7UK website, which provides links to sources of more detailed information and helplines. You can access information on FP7 on the FP7UK website – Opens in a new window.

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