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As a part of its research and development cooperation with the EU, Ukraine participates in the Horizon 2020 programme. It is the biggest European research fund with around €79 billion for the period of 2014-2020. Upon Ukraine’s accession to the Horizon 2020 in March 2015, a number of national research companies raised European funding to develop their technological breakthroughs.
Ukrainian electron beam melting company Chervona Hvilya is among the Horizon success stories. In 2017, the company won the Horizon grant of €50 000 to develop its technology of metal 3D printing - xBeam. It allows producing metal parts of unique shape complexity and optimal thinness with both high productivity and accuracy. The solution dramatically reduces production costs, compared to the existing 3D metal printers. The developers deem that xBeam 3D printing can be especially used in aerospace, healthcare (medical, dental), automotive and machinery industries, and R&D. Currently, Chervona Hvilya is developing its innovation to enter the world markets.
Apart from 3D printing of metal details, Ukrainians also managed to 3D print a house, making it independent from energy and water supply. Its systems of solar generation, water supply with filtration, and drainage make the house completely autonomous. Ukrainian company PassivDom came up with 3D printing technology of a smart house, which as well doesn’t pollute the environment with CO2 emissions. The EU supported further development of this innovation with Horizon funding. The founders believe that in the future their technology can help solving world problems, such as global warming or lack of housing in the developing countries and conflict areas.
Another Ukrainian technology to receive the Horizon 2020 funding is waste utilisation, developed by the Ukrainian Institute of Human Ecology - INEKO. The company developed a cost-effective solution for utilisation of hazardous waste by gasification with a minimum environmental footprint and emission. INEKO focuses its technology for waste management in medical sphere (e.g. healthcare facilities, pharmaceutical companies, petrochemical factories, etc.). It will help both reduce environmental pollution and generate alternative energy due to the obtained synthetic gas.
Despite such impressive cases of Ukrainian H2020 participants, experts say Ukraine is not using its potential. Since joining the Horizon in 2015, only 6 Ukrainian companies won grants under the SME Instrument.
In 2015 and 2016, on average 5 companies from Ukraine applied for the instrument per quarter. Now the situation has improved somewhat: on average 25 companies have applied in the first and second quarters this year; and 40 companies in the third quarter. Although, it is not a big number for Ukraine. For instance, the most active H2020 member states applied by a huge ratio: Italy (340). Spain (338), United Kingdom (129), France (112). Of the 2,079 projects submitted in September this year, 119 enterprises received funding.
At the same time, Ukraine should think about creating favourable conditions to keep its best innovators in the country and harvest the full benefit from its participation in Horizon 2020.
So far Ukraine gets 95% discount for its participation in Horizon 2020. Thus, for now, it might end up as net-beneficiary of the programme. But sooner or later Ukraine will have to pay the full membership fee, ending up in the situation when the country will pay significantly more than it can receive funding from Horizon 2020. What is more, with the Ukrainian taxpayers, Ukraine will pay its Horizon participation fee to fund the EU member states, brain-draining Ukrainian top innovators into their labs. To avoid such developments, Ukraine should reform its research system now to make it attractive for its best talents to stay in the country (or even return back to Ukraine).
To get a consultation about participation in Horizon 2020, visit the National Contact Points in Ukraine.
Among the recent Ukrainian winners of the SME Instrument grants are as well:
Ukrainian startup SolarGaps, which invented Energy generating solar smart window blinds
Private enterprise «Dominion», which developed the technology of onsite 3D printing of lengthy large diameter polyethylene pipes with cellular walls
Learn more about Horizon 2020 opportunities:
Horizon 2020 – General overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CimJI88c4fE
List of Horizon 2020 projects: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/h2020-sections-projects
Apart from support to Ukraine's innovative companies, the EU provides extensive support to Ukrainian businesses under its programme for SMEs in the Eastern Partnership region, EU4Business.
EU4Business provides SMEs with financing in form of loans or guarantees, training, and coaching, as well as networking opportunities at fairs and on trade missions.
The programme delivers its support together with such organisations as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank.