The European Commission will invest 30€ billion in research and innovation for the next three years in order to boost the impact of the Horizon 2020 (H2020) programme. The funds will go more towards market-creating innovations with specific focus on topics such as migration, cyber security, climate, clean energy and digital technologies.
“Open Europe, open programme, new type of funding for innovation“: this is how Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation described the recently published 2018-2020 work programme for Horizon 2020 and the EU’s plans for the future of innovation funding.
WHAT’S NEW FOR THE MEDIA SECTOR?
Over the next three years, roughly 2.7 billion €  will be invested in information and communication technologies (ICT). While the media sector is included within this category, access to H2020 funding for media organisation is still limited compared to other industries.
There are nevertheless some positive developments, notably the inclusion of media as one of the vertical industries in the 5G PPP on “Advanced 5G Network Infrastructure”, which will be geared towards setting up fixed, mobile and satellite networks, together with computing and storage resources, into a unified, programmable and universally available infrastructure.
The inclusion of the media as one of the PPP’s vertical industries is recognition of the fact that the sector could greatly benefit from the new data distribution and communication standard 5G promises to be. Integrating the media sector’s requirements from the onset will boost opportunities for future innovation, such as the development of new content formats, and ensure a smooth and efficient convergence between different technology pillars and infrastructure.
MEDIA AND BIG DATA: A NOTABLE ABSENTEE
The media does not adequately figure amongst the key industries driving the Big Data PPP, which overlooks the importance of big data for the sector when it comes for instance to benchmarking attractive content formats, simplifying digital B2B workflows and OTT delivery, enriching media content production, identifying waste and unlocking efficiency gains.
This unfortunate limited presence ignores the media sector’s early uptake of data analytics as well as its potential to continue taking this innovation legacy forward. This nevertheless offers the MediaRoad project an opportunity to step up activities in this field and demonstrate how big data can drive innovation for the media sector.
CREATIVE INDUSTRIES AND TECHNOLOGY SECTOR COLLABORATION
Dedicated funding opportunities bridging the gaps between technological innovation, creativity and research and development have emerged as a key priority for media stakeholders.
New calls for proposals, including the Interactive Technologies (ICT-25-2018-2020) and the STARTS-The Arts stimulating innovation (ICT-32-2018) effectively address this priority and should be seen as a step towards further and more substantial investments that can better meet the R&D demands of the creative industries.
This a welcome move for the creative industries as they are particularly eager to take part in European projects. Figures from 2017 show that there is a high demand for H2020 ICT calls for proposals targeting the sector, which indicates that there is a clear necessity to broaden support for the innovative potential of the media and creative sector.
ESTABLISHING A EUROPEAN INNOVATION COUNCIL AND STRONGER INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
The final Three years of the H2020 programme will also be marked by the launch of the first pilot phase of the European Innovation Council as a future building block for its successor programme from 2020 onwards. Focus will be placed on new approaches to funding innovation based on three pillars:
- One common brand for innovation in Europe represented by the European Innovation Council (EIC);
- A bottom-up rather than top-down approach to support innovation, targeting breakthrough projects which show strong potential for scaling up;
- A closer relationship with innovators in order to mentor them, interview them and create a community that is able to share failure and success stories to move forward together.
The new Work Programme also aims at promoting a more open approach to innovation by strengthening international cooperation in research and innovation. For the first time, the programme will set aside a budget of 1 million € dedicated to collaboration between the EU and the rest of the world, from Canada to India, Africa, and the Middle East.
 The budget figure reflect the sum of indicative figures provided in the ICT work programme 2018-20. The budget amount for 2018 are subject to the final adoption by the budgetary authority and those for 2019 and 2020 are indicative and will be subject to separate financing decisions (http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/wp/2018-2020/main/h2020-wp1820-leit-ict_en.pdf).
Photo credits: © European Union , 2017 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Alessandro Rampazzo