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Analysis of water-related RDI in Europe: the role of Water Europe

About the blog

Tomás Michel Mayer
Chairman of Water Europe.
  • Analysis of water-related RDI in Europe: the role of Water Europe

The strategy of Water Europe is based on the belief that the real value of water for society and the economy should be acknowledged. We foster excellence in water research, and encourage the transfer of the knowledge generated to the market so it can be applied.

With more than 215 members, we represent the entire water value chain. We work to raise the profile of water in the political agenda of Brussels's institutions, trying to ensure that water and water-related problems receive enough attention by the Parliament, the Commission, and particularly, that they are included in the European funding programmes. We thus facilitate the research, development and innovation (RDI) projects of our members and contribute to strengthening this sector.

We have just done a ground-breaking analysis of RDI related to water financed with European funds. A first deliverable of the study includes the list of all the projects where Water Europe's members have participated and details of the 15 projects coordinated by them. This document is available and can be downloaded from Water Europe's new website.

Here I would like to highlight some of the study results from the point of view of the value that Water Europe contributes towards facilitating and advancing the actions of its members. 

The European Union has encouraged water-related research and development mainly through three initiatives, the Horizon 2020 programme, the LIFE+ programme, and INTERREG. In the period analysed (2014-2019), a total of 1561 water-related projects have been carried out, comprising 1.3 billion from the Horizon 2020 programme (still ongoing, so this contribution will increase), 800 million from the LIFE+ programme, and 1 billion from the INTERREG programme. A total of 86 countries have participated (28 EU, 3 EFTA, 55 others).

Water Europe has grown, it has the capacity to influence and plays an important role in European water-related RDI

Given the collaborative nature of these European programmes, it is useful to analyse the number of individual partners that have participated in different consortia, and were able to benefit from the funding. This kind of analysis seems quite relevant to analyse the real impact of our activity, and the value we add.

Hence, in the case of Horizon 2020, up to 2,775 entities have participated in the 602 projects analysed. Water Europe's members total 2,061 participations which amount to 75% in the RIA category (Research & Innovation Actions), 77% in the IA category (Innovation Actions), 66% in the CSA category (Communication & Support Actions) and 63% in the BBI category (Bio Based Industries). Water Europe has definitely grown, it has the capacity to influence and plays an important role in European water-related RDI.

Water Europe will continue to work with the large amount of data and results obtained. We will use new analyses to set future strategies and actions.

These results should be, no doubt, a source of pride and satisfaction.  However, a more detailed analysis indicates that there is still work to be done and great opportunities to take advantage of. All of this to continue strengthening our sector, improving our economic return, and continue to progress and lead solutions for a better water future for all.

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