The European Commission is mobilising all the available means to help Member States coordinate their national responses and to provide objective information about the spread of the virus and effective efforts to contain it.

As part of these initiatives, Research and Innovation play a key role in the response to this crisis, which brings additional challenges due to the knowledge gaps we still have on the virus. The European Commission has a dedicated page on Coronavirus research, and this article summarizes key opportunities and actions already taken.

1.    IMI call for proposals (deadline 31 March 2020)

A call for research proposals (deadline 31 March 2020) was announced by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) on 3 March 2020, aimed at supporting projects that develop treatments and diagnostics to better tackle the COVID-19 outbreak,  increasing preparedness for future possible outbreaks.

The IMI is a public-private partnership between the EU and the pharmaceutical industries,  through their association EFPIA.

The European Commission funds IMI through Horizon 2020 and will contribute up to €45 million to this call. A commitment of a similar scale is expected from the pharmaceutical industry so that the total investment could reach up to €90 million.

2.    EIC epitching for EIC-backed companies that can contribute to combat the pandemic (deadline 27 March 2020)

The European Innovation Council Business Acceleration Services is organising a special ePitching-session in the light of the current COVID-19 outbreak in an effort to mobilize EIC projects. All EIC-backed SMEs, active in the fields of public health, vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, that can contribute to possible solutions to help combat the current pandemic and its consequences and are looking for investment are welcome to apply.

A limited number of EIC-backed up SMEs will have the chance to show their innovative solutions via an online tool to a jury of investors, including Panakes PartnersIdacapitalClinical Research Ventures and Monte Carlo Capital, on 15 April 2020 from 12.00 until 1.30 pm (CET).

Applications are open until 27 March 2020 17:00 pm (CET), and can be done through this link

The EIC also established, within the last cut-off dates of March 18th (eventually extended until the 20th), a fast-track procedure for grant awarding to Coronavirus relevant innovations selected for funding.

3. Results of the emergency Health March call – €47.5 million for 17 shortlisted research projects

A better understanding of COVID-19 and its spread is essential in order to detect the disease, treat and protect patients and ultimately control the epidemic.

This is why on 30 January 2020, the European Commission launched a request for expressions of interest entitled ‘SC1-PHE-CORONAVIRUS-2020: Advancing knowledge for the clinical and public health response to the [COVID-19] epidemic’ with a budget of €47.5 million.

17 research projects were shortlisted for funding following evaluation by independent experts.

These projects will advance our understanding of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), contribute to more efficient clinical management of patients infected with the virus, and to the public health preparedness and response to the outbreak.

The 17 projects, involving 136 research teams from across the EU and beyond, will work on:

  • improving epidemiology and public health, including preparedness and response to outbreaks
  • rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests
  • new treatments
  • new vaccines

Research teams are expected to share data rapidly so that results can immediately inform the public health response.

You can find a list of the selected project here.

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