Seven public-private partnerships, established under the EU’s new research funding programme Horizon 2020, are being launched today. Shift2Rail, Innovative Medicines Initiative 2, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2, Clean Sky 2, Bio-based Industries, Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) 2020 and Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership (ECSEL) represent a total investment of €19.5 billion into research and innovation over the next seven years, where the EU contribution of €7.3 billion will unlock a €12.2 billion investment from the private sector and the Member States. Together with four more public-public partnerships with Member States, they form an Innovative Investment Package representing an investment into Europe’s future of over €22 billion.
These partnerships work in a number of fields crucial for Europe’s economic growth, creation of jobs, industrial competitiveness, and well-being of citizens.
The first round of calls is worth a total of €1.13 billion in public funding, which will be complemented by a comparable amount from the private partners. The calls are competitive and open to the participation of companies, SMEs, universities, research organisations and others. The best projects are selected for funding through peer review.
This new public-private partnership, working with a total investment of €920 million in the next seven years, sets out to drastically improve the quality and efficiency of rail services in Europe by accelerating the uptake of innovative solutions. The initiative will pool the resources and expertise of all key players to increase reliability and punctuality of rail services by as much as 50%, to double railway capacity and thereby reduce congestion and CO2 emissions, to cut the costs of infrastructure and rolling stock by up to half, and to retain Europe’s leadership in the global rail market. These objectives can only be achieved if all actors in the rail sector work in partnership.
Three precursor topics were already launched under Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2014 for a value of €52 million, covering intelligent infrastructure and mobility management, smart rail services and new generation of rail vehicles. The management of these projects will be transferred to Shift2Rail. A call for Associated Members to the Joint Undertaking will be launched within the next three months to identify the core partners who will work hand in hand with the Commission to make sure Europe can get more passengers and freight onto its railways, and the first calls for activities will follow in 2015.
Vice-President Siim Kallas, EU commissioner for mobility and transport, said: “If we want to get more passengers and freight onto Europe’s railways, then rail needs to provide better services and offer an attractive choice to more customers. For that to happen, rail needs to innovate. With Shift2Rail, the Commission is more than tripling its financing for rail research and innovation, which, combined with private funding, will represent a unique opportunity to develop strategic technologies and solutions that will help to strengthen the competitiveness of European businesses and retain Europe’s leadership in the global rail market.”
Jochen Eickholt, CEO of Divison Rail Systems, Siemens AG, Infrastructure & Cities Sector, said: “The SHIFT2RAIL Joint Undertaking is an unprecedented collaborative R&D effort made by the European rail industry and represents the culture of innovation that the rail sector needs. It has been designed not only to increase our industrial competitiveness worldwide but specifically to provide EU passengers and freight customers a quality paradigm shift for their transportation needs.”