Since their introduction in 1984, the Framework Programmes for Research and Technical Development have been the European Union's main instrument for funding research in Europe, fostering multidisciplinary research and cooperative activities. The Seventh Framework Programme, or FP7 for short, follows the tracks of its predecessors, but also introduces some important differences.
With a lifespan of 7 years, from 2007 to 2013, and a budget of 53.2 billion euros, FP7 is notably longer in time and better funded than the previous Framework Programmes. It promoted the creation of the European Research Council, the first pan-European agency for research funding, which aims to promote high-risk yet potentially high-gain European research at the scientific frontiers. To carry out its duties, the ERC is formed by the Scientific Council (to plan scientific strategy, establish the work programme, quality control and information activities) and an implementing agency (administration, support for applicants, proposal eligibility, grant management and practical organisation). FP7 also introduced a new Risk-sharing finance facility to enhance backing for private investors in research projects, improving access to loans from the European Investment Bank; and the Joint Technology Initiatives, industry-driven, large-scale multi-financed actions, supported by a mix of public and private funding, which address those areas of research where enhanced collaboration and considerable investment are essential to long-term success.
FP7 comprises several specific programmes, corresponding to its main priorities:
- Cooperation Programme: The core of FP7, this programme promotes collaborative research across Europe and other partner countries in several key areas: health; food, agriculture, fisheries, and biotechnology; information and communications technologies; nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies; energy; environment; transport; socio-economic sciences and the humanities; space and security. It also includes the Joint Technology Initiatives, and the Risk-sharing finance facility.
- Ideas Programme: Implemented by the European Research Council, it funds pure, investigative research at the frontiers of science and technology, with particular emphases on emerging and fast-growing fields, and on cross-disciplinary research. This programme is uniquely flexible, since applications are judged on the sole criterion of peer-reviewed excellence.
- People Programme: Carried out through a set of Marie Curie actions, it aims to support mobility and career development for researchers both inside and outside the European Union.
- Capacities Programme: Designed to strengthen research abilities, innovation and competitiveness, this programme helps develop the capacities that Europe needs to be a reference knowledge-based economy.
- Euratom Programme: Centered on supporting nuclear research in Europe, this programme is composed of two parts. The first one covers research on nuclear fusion and the construction of the experimental ITER fusion reactor, set to be the biggest research project on Earth, while the second one deals with nuclear safety, nuclear fission waste management, and radiation protection.
For more information about the Seventh Framework Programme, visit:
FP7 website on Cordis (www.cordis.europa.eu/fp7/)
FP7 Helpdesk (www.ec.europa.eu/research/enquiries)
FP7 section of the website for European research (www. ec.europa.eu/research/fp7/)
The LEOSWEEP project is financed under the FP7 Cooperation programme, in the thematic area of space.