The Commission announced today that eight large-scale research projects, aimed at developing treatments and diagnostics for the coronavirus,were selected in a fast-track call for proposals, launched in March by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership.
In order to fund a larger number of high-quality proposals, the Commission increased its commitment to €72 million (up from the originally planned €45 million) from Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme. €45 million will be provided by the pharmaceutical industry, IMI associated partners and other organisations involved with the projects, bringing the total investment to €117 million.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “We need to bring together the expertise and resources of the public and the private sector in order to defeat this pandemic and prepare for any future outbreaks. With this funding from Horizon 2020 and our industry and other partners, we are speeding up the development of coronavirus diagnostics and treatments, essential tools that we need to tackle the global emergency.”
The projects selected today are part of the common European response to the coronavirus outbreak that the Commission is coordinating since the beginning of the crisis. On 4 May, the Commissionpledged €1.4 billion in total during the Coronavirus Global Response pledging event, of which €1 billion comes through Horizon 2020 and is aimed at developing vaccines, new treatments and diagnostic tools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Moreover, since January 2020 the Commission has mobilised a total of €352 million under Horizon 2020. This includes, among others, €48.2 million awarded to 18 research projects that have started working on preparedness and response to outbreaks, rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests, new treatments and new vaccines.
Out of the 8 projects funded under the IMI call, 5 are focusing on diagnostics and 3 on treatments. The ones that will be working on diagnostic tools intend to develop devices that can be used anywhere, such as in the doctor’s surgery or in a patient’s own home, and can deliver fast results in 14-40 minutes. The other projects, which will focus on the development of treatments, will primarily work on the current coronavirus outbreak, while they will make substantial efforts to prepare for future outbreaks.
In total, these projects comprise 94 organisations, such as universities, research organisations, companies, and public organisations. There is also strong involvement of small and medium businesses (SMEs), which make up over 20% of the participants and will receive 17% of the budget.