EC woos SMEs

The European Commission (EC) is inviting biotech firms to apply for research grants, if partnered with academia. For the first time, a quarter of the biotech-specific grants will require the participation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The EC plans to hand out €240.3 million ($310.2 million) in direct research grants in 2011, up 26% from the €190 million ($245.3 million) this year. The bio-boost, part of a scheduled ramp-up to €6.4 billion ($8.2 billion) in research funding across all disciplines, is spread across three main areas: agriculture and fisheries, food, health and wellbeing and life sciences and biotech €70.6 ($90.9) million). The ‘cooperation’ grants, which require researchers from three or more countries to collaborate, are part of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The number of calls for proposals in industrial biotech, biorefineries and in emerging biotech areas has grown this year, according to the EC, which lists its calls for proposals online. Biotech researchers may also find relevant calls for proposals in neighboring research areas within the cooperation theme or through career grants from the European Research Council, which will provide €661 ($850.7) million across the life sciences. Researchers from academia and industry can learn more on September 13 and 14 at an EC-hosted information day and conference about the “knowledge based bio-economy” (

First published by Nature Biotechnology: [html] [pdf].