Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder today hailed a major victory for the South East as the European Parliament overwhelmingly approved the EU's new £64 billion research and innovation programme.
The new programme, Horizon 2020, will be the largest of its kind in the world and will see an increase of funding of almost a third compared to the current period.
That means the region's universities could be in line for almost £1 billion worth of science funding based on what they currently receive.
The new research framework includes a separate £2.2 billion budget line, pushed for by Liberal Democrat MEPs, which will be specifically earmarked for small businesses.
Universities in the UK have received almost £3 billion under the current research programme,more than those in any other EU country.
South East MEP, Catherine Bearder, commented:
"Today marks a historic shift in EU spending towards boosting innovation, creating jobs and helping small businesses.
"Universities and companies across the South East are now in line for millions of pounds worth of funding, enabling them to create thousands of new jobs and develop the technologies of the future.
"Being part of the world's largest research programme will also allow our universities and scientists to partake in exciting international projects such as "MULTIMALVAX" a project led by Oxford University working on a multi-stage malaria vaccine."
Catherine recently visited Oxford University's Jenner Institute to see this project in action.
Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute, described European Commission funding as "extremely important" for research and development of leading health technologies right across Europe.
He said: "Multimalvax is an example of a major European collaboration on new malaria vaccine development that could not have been supported by any other means. Today's announcement is excellent news for patients, researchers and those trying to control globally important diseases."
"Very importantly, smaller businesses and entrepreneurs will now find it easier to apply for EU funding to help them get new products off the ground, through simpler rules and a separate budget line.
"This package shows the importance of the EU for local jobs and the economy. However, it also shows that by getting stuck in we can play a leading role in reforming the EU for the better.
"From the outset, Liberal Democrats have fought for a smaller EU budget that prioritises jobs and innovation. That is exactly what this deal will deliver."