In an effort to help Europe develop world-class research and close the innovation gap between the European Union and its main competitors, the US and Japan, the EU is making about €7 B available in the latest round of grants. This is part of the €53 B available through the current research funding programme for 2007 to 2013.

The call for research proposals also addresses the aims of the EU's Innovation Union policy. This flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 growth and job strategy will stimulate and speed up innovation in Europe, while removing bottlenecks that prevent good ideas from reaching the market.

Key areas being targeted include nanotechnologies and information and communication technologies. About 16,000 recipients will receive grants for research projects this year. About €1 B will be used to help small and medium-sized businesses innovate.

This funding is part of the EU's strategy for building up science and innovation. The EU wants to increase spending on research to 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2020 (from 2 percent in 2009). Achieving that target could create 3.7 million jobs and boost annual growth by about €800 B.