The EU is moving towards its main objectives of EU transport policy are: promoting sustainable forms of transport, improving the digitalization of transport and making the transport system more resilient.
The Commission adopted on February 9 the European Innovation Council (EIC) Work Program 2022, which offers funding opportunities worth more than €1.7 billion in 2022 for cutting-edge innovators to expand and create new markets in areas such as quantum computing, next-generation batteries or gene therapy. Unveiled in March 2021 as one of the most important new features of the Horizon Europe program, the ERC has a total budget of more than €10 billion for the period 2021-2027.
Funding and support from the European Innovation Council in 2022
- The ERC Explorer (€350 million) supports multidisciplinary research teams to carry out visionary research with the potential to lead to technological breakthroughs.
- The ERC Transition (€131 million) aims to transform research results into innovation opportunities, focusing on the results achieved by the ERC Explorer projects and ERC Proof-of-Concept projects, in order to refine technologies and develop a business model for specific applications.
- The ERC Accelerator (€1.16 billion) supports start-ups and SMEs to develop and scale up high-impact innovations with the potential to create new or disrupt existing markets.
In addition, on the same day the European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, a Spanish scheme of EUR 30 million to remove obstacles to interoperability in rail freight transport in Spain. The scheme will be financed through the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism (RRM), following the Commission’s positive assessment of the Spanish Recovery and Resilience Plan and its adoption by the Council.
The aid under this scheme will take the form of direct subsidies to finance the upgrading of on-board equipment for European Rail Traffic Management Systems (ERTMS). The direct subsidies will also finance other measures to remove obstacles to rail interoperability, such as the installation of noise reduction systems and variable gauge axles on freight wagons, as well as the adaptation of locomotives to different voltages.
A particularly noteworthy investment in this sector is that of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Patentes Talgo, which on February 4 signed a 35 million euro green loan to finance the company’s R&D&I strategy.
This operation, which will be the third signed with Patentes Talgo, will finance a number of the company’s investments in research, development and innovation activities associated with the development of key components and systems for low-carbon rail transport vehicles. All investments financed by the EIB will be in line with the EU’s Sustainable and Intelligent Mobility Strategy and the Climate Bank’s Roadmap. In addition to achieving greater safety in products and manufacturing processes, the investments will produce positive environmental effects related to the development of more energy-efficient rolling stock and involving the use of recyclable composite materials. They will also contribute to promoting sustainable mobility by progressively increasing passenger and freight rail traffic through the development of an affordable high-speed rail network.