N°1, 22nd January 2008
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Dear EARTO Member,
You are viewing a test version of the future EARTO newsletter, which is also your introduction to the new EARTO website.
We have re-engineered our website using new software, with two objectives: (i) to offer you more information and (ii) to simplify the management of the website.
Through this test newsletter we are making the new website accessible to EARTO members only, to invite you to take a tour, to signal any problems you may experience, and to offer proposals for further improvement. We aim to go public with the website in early February.
To access the website, please click here.
On the home page you will find a scrolling menu of news items which will be updated day by day. We recognise that not everyone will want to visit the website every day, so the most imortant news will be referenced in the following edition of EARTO News: a simple click will take you to the article.
Please be sure to visit the Members Area. You will not find a lot of information there for the time being, but we aim to add more in the coming weeks, for example the results of the forthcoming EARTO survey of RTO overhead costs and the soon-to-be-launched EARTO FP7 performance benchmarking tool. To access the Members Area, you will need a login and password. These will be e-mailed to you today or tomorrow.
The remainder of this newsletter contains a brief selection of news and announcements using the standard headings of the new newsletter.
In December 2005 EURAB, the European Commission’s high-level Research Advisory Board, published its report on Research and Technology Organisations and ERA. EARTO played a key role in the preparation of the paper, which underlined RTOs' important place in Europe’s research and innovation systems and major potential contribution which they have to make to the evolving European Research Area.
The present document - prepared with the EUROTECH Special Interest Group and the EARTO Executive Board - is a sequel to the EURAB report. Its purpose is to illustrate more fully the distinctive role of RTOs in modern research and innovation systems, to show through statistical analysis their powerful engagement in strategic European research initiatives, notably the European Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, and to offer in conclusion some policy recommendations.
EARTO convenes from time to time a Task Force of Intellectual Property specialists from member RTOs to analyze new European policy developments and to help prepare EARTO policy positions.
The Task Force met on November 8th at Fraunhofer headquarters in Munich. The main item of discussion was the IP Charter currently being drafted by the Commission following a proposal by the German EU Presidency.
Several changes to the current Commission draft were discussed and agreed during the meeting, and are being presented to the Commission by the two RTO representatives on the DG Research Expert Group which is assisting the Commission in the drafting of the document.
A further meeting of the IP Task Force will be hold on January 24th in Brussels, with further discussion of a revised Commission draft on the IP Charter as the principal item on the agenda. There will also be space to discuss IP issues of common interest.
Any members interested in joining the Task Force are invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help you judge how well your RTO is performing relative to other RTOs in FP7, EARTO will very soon launch a benchmarking tool allowing members to compare their success in applying for FP7 funding against the performance of other RTOs.
Data will be collected from members - but presented anonymously - on the numbers of proposals passing threshold and receiving funding. We will distinguish proposals in which members are coordinators or ordinary participants, and we will cover the main programmes within FP7: the thematic priorities, SME-specific measures, ERC, etc. The data will also be classified according to the size of each RTO, in order to permit more meaningful comparisons.
We propose to develop this benchmarking tool progressively. Reference values in the form of percentages and averages will become robust only after we have accumulated a sufficient volume of data. You will find an example how the data will be presented in the Members Area of the website.
Once a satisfactory threshold has been reached, however, it will be possible to offer facilities for making more refined comparisons, e.g. all proposals/projects within a specific thematic priority.
We will remind you via the EARTO Newsletter twice a year to update your data. The outcome of each survey will be found on the EARTO website.
Fur further information about this initiative, please contact email@example.com.
ERAB - the European Research Area Board - is the high-level advisory group which will soon replace the former European Research Advisory Body. ERAB will have 22 members. EARTO is one of the approximately 20 European associations invited to nominate candidates to ERAB.
The ERAB Identification Committee is expected to finalise its recommendations to the Commission in late January. The Commission will announce its choice of ERAB members in March.
The launch of ERAB is expected in May or June.
The final political decisions about the European Institute of Innovation and Technology - the official name of the EIT - are now expected in mid-February. We then expect the Commission to announce the appointment of an Identification Committee to select the 18 appointed members of the EIT Governing Board. EARTO will propose RTO candidates for the EIT Governing Board. Further information in due course.
The Internet Society (ISOC) in The Netherlands has created a new foundation called the Free Knowledge Institute (FKI). The aim of this new institution is to promote the production and dissemination of free educational materials, the development of free software, open standards and open hardware, open cultural content and open access to scientific knowledge.
Distribution on knowledge under the FKI is based on "copyleft", a form of licensing that removes copyright restrictions on distributing copies and modified versions.
The FKI follows the ideas in the recent European Research Council Interim Position on open access and constitutes an excellent platform for Small and Medium Enterprises and institutions involved in research projects. Specifically, the use of "copyleft" software by these entities may reduce costs, but they must be aware of the conditions imposed by this category of licenses.
IPTEC (an entity designed to assist technology based companies and organisations) is organising, with the sponsor of the IRC Network, the "International Marketplace and Conference" to be held in Frankfurt/Main (Germany) on 11th-12th June 2008.
The event aims to allow an informal meeting of CEOs, managers from multinational companies, SMEs, universities and research centres from around the world to identify ways to create partnerships to exploit their own IP or to acquire new IP to help business development.
MEPS voted in favour of the report drafted by German Liberal MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis on the CARS 21 (Competitive Automotive Regulation System for the 21st Century) initiative, and agreed that car manufacturers should be given more time to meet the legally binding CO2 cuts.
They recommended that an average target for car makers should be 125g/km of CO2 emissions by 2015, whilst the European Commission had proposed a figure of 120g/km by 2012.
The MEPs also asked that cars should be permitted to emit more CO2 if the emissions result from mandatory safety measures, as some such measures increase the weight of passenger cars and thus lead to higher emissions. .
For Mr Chatzimarkakis, the adopted report was a step forward and a realistic option for the automobile industry.
'I am very pleased that the CARS 21 report has been approved. We want to take a realistic approach to what's going on. We want to give the automobile industry targets which they can realistically achieve,' he said on 15 January.
The report also suggested that one of the first knowledge and innovation communities (KICs) of the new European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) should address CO2 reduction through vehicle technology.
'There should be a clear link between the rise in public R&D funding in the automotive sector and the binding character of CO2 targets,' the report stated.
Other topics addressed by the report include completing the internal market for cars, internationalising the regulatory environment, and the effective protection of intellectual property rights.
The European car industry produces 19 million vehicles a year and provides 2.3 million direct jobs and 10 million jobs indirectly.
Mr Jansa spoke of the necessity of creating a Europe based on creativity and knowledge, but emphasised that 'merely investing in knowledge is not enough'. He promised a debate on the nature of the internal market that the EU should have, and added: 'We must ensure that there will be no obstacles to the flow of ideas and knowledge.'
The Presidency plans to make the free flow of knowledge a fifth freedom at the spring European Council.
On climate change, Mr Jansa referred to commitments made in March 2007 to minimise climate change. A conference in Bali in December provided a timetable for implementing commitments. The Prime Minister has big plans for the spring Council meeting. 'My ambition is that the meeting will provide us with clear guidelines for our future work and that our collective intentions to adopt the package as soon as possible will be confirmed. We want the final solutions to be objective and just, and anticipate that the goals will bring results according to our commitments,' he told Parliamentarians.
'It remains to be shown that we can achieve success by taking appropriate action and that we can reduce impacts on the environment by investing in new technologies along with those already available,' said Mr Jansa.
Other priorities presented to MEPs included ratification of the new EU Treaty, agreed in December 2007, accession negotiations with Croatia and Turkey, support for the Western Balkans, and combating poverty.
"A knowledge based economy is all about its people. Making it easier to move between the public and private sectors is a challenge for all of Europe, and I think that the Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways action blazes a trail, which other research funders can follow" said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik speaking at the first such conference in Brussels today.
Challenges for science and technology today are the quality of those carrying out the research, and the ability of the knowledge they generate to be used to further economic development and quality of life. The Marie Curie Actions, financed by the "People" specific programme of the EU's 7th Framework Programme, are designed to strengthen the human potential in research and technology in Europe. The Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways stimulate mobility between the public and private sectors and promote staff exchange through joint research partnerships.
The scheme is open to all organisations active in research, and the partnerships consist of at least one private and one public research organisation and at least two countries taking part in the Framework Programme. Support is provided for exchange of know-how and experience through two-way secondments of research staff; research and networking activities; recruitment of experienced researchers from outside the partnership; organisation of workshops and conferences and, for SMEs, research equipment. Funding is typically for 4 years and is up to 100% of the costs of the project; no matching financing is required.
The second call for proposals is now open with a deadline of 25/03/2008. The budget share for the current call is €45 million.
The Marie Curie IAPP scheme is an important potential source of research funding for the private sector, especially SMEs; it is the only action in which a single SME can apply for Community research funding with a single university partner. IAPP consortia are small, most typically comprising 1 or 2 public sector institutions with a single private sector partner.
The IAPP scheme follows on from the successful "Transfer of Knowledge Industry Academia Partnerships" scheme in the 6th Framework Programme. Many successful research collaborations were formed under the previous scheme and some of these are present at the conference to share their experiences and advise on how to get the most out of the partnership.
Among those present is Professor Anil Kokaram of Trinity College Dublin who along with a British company, The Foundry, won a 2007 Scientific and Engineering Award® from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® for their research into post-production software supported by their FP6 contract. The Foundry has sent staff to Dublin to study the latest research in 3D imaging processing and a research fellow from Trinity College has gained valuable commercial experience in the industry.
Also presenting her research was Dr Julie Maguire of Daithi O'Murchu Marine Research Station in Ireland. She coordinates a project with 5 partners in Ireland, Norway and Italy. They are researching genetic selection techniques to overcome problems of inconsistencies in the quantity and quality of shellfish supplies. Julie said of the collaboration "we will definitely want to continue working together and are now looking for new opportunities".
The European Commission is carrying out a wide-ranging study entitled "Monitoring and analysis of technology transfer and intellectual property regimes and their use". Its purpose is to promote the development and use of intellectual property systems in research activities. It investigates a number of specific research and development-related intellectual property issues.
Fact sheets explaining the IP regimes of individual countries and the first analyses and recommendations of the project have already been made available. Nonetheless, the Commission is inviting stakeholders (from universities, industry, national administrations, etc.) to study these documents and to provide feedback on them.
With a Slovenian occupying the position of EU Science and Research Commissioner, the country was expected to have clear ambitions for its term at the helm of the EU. It has not disappointed.
Slovenia will start by investigating ways to encourage companies to cooperate in their research and development (R&D) activities with what it refers to as 'knowledge institutions'. Slovenia also hopes to stimulate those companies that develop products and services of high technological complexity to embrace new products or technologies. This should increase added value per employee for each company.
When seeking to strengthen the ERA, Slovenia will focus in particular on industrial research. The Presidency would like to move forward with the Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and various initiatives under Article 169 of the Treaty. In this area, the final phase of the codecision procedure for the first initiatives ('Ambient Assisted Living' and 'EUROSTARS') is ongoing, and the European Commission announced its plans to contribute ¿30 million to a further two initiatives (in the fields of Baltic Sea research and metrology) on 4 January.
Slovenia's priorities document also outlines an intention to increase the transition of highly educated personnel between the private and public sectors, and to support European Technology Platforms in the implementation of their SRAs.
Additional concerns for Slovenia include ensuring the more effective involvement of the Western Balkans in EU activities, boosting the number of women working in science, and developing research infrastructures, particularly at a regional level. A conference on this topic will take place in March.
Lead markets are high-growth potential markets for research and innovation-rich goods and services. The concept was introduced into EU terminology by the 'Aho report' on Creating an innovative Europe (January 2006).
The report was the outcome of a small expert group chaired by the former Finnish prime minister, Esko Aho, and appointed by the October 2005 Hampton Court European Council to consider what new efforts are needed in the field of research and innovation to achieve the Lisbon goals.
Lead market initiatives will focus on areas where public authorities can facilitate industry-led innovation by creating favourable legal and regulatory frameworks, setting standards, improving access to risk capital, providing support for research and acting as a launch customer.
The Commission adopted a Communication on the lead market initiative for Europe on 21 December 2007, but this adoption was not announced until 7 January 2008.
The first six lead markets in which innovative solutions will be supported are:
An action plan for the coming years is set out for each of the six markets in an annex to the Communication.
The action plans detail how legislation will be improved in each area to foster innovation and how public procurement, standardisation, labelling and certification will be encouraged.
The action plans also include complementary instruments, such as business and innovation support services and financial support and incentives.
The impact assessment annexed to the communication estimates that "supported by the focused approach of the lead market initiatives, the combined market volume of the six markets could more than double by 2020 and some 1 million new jobs could be created".
The Commission will, in the future, consider lead market initiatives for other market areas if "the identified criteria appears to be ripe for a similar initiative" and co-operation between member states and other stakeholders on the first six initiatives proves successful.
This initiative is "the first step in the process of active political support and incentives that will help Europe reap the full benefits of the knowledge based bio-economy. We are pleased that the Commission has adopted an integrated approach bringing together all the major policy areas - such as research and innovation, environment, agriculture, industry, transport and energy - to develop a common action plan in this area," said Ian Hudson, president of DuPont Europe, Middle East & Africa and Chair of EuropaBio's Industrial Biotech Council.
"We need to make sure that we develop a coherent, coordinated and comprehensive overall policy framework supporting the development of bio-based product markets. If policy makers get it right, bio-based products and biotechnology can be the key which unlocks the door to an environmental and economical sustainable future for Europe," said Johan Vanhemelrijck, Secretary General of EuropaBio.
Over the next two years, the project partners will design, implement and test models for collaboration between the different actors involved in research, education and innovation, such as universities, research organisations, large companies, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and innovation centres.
The resulting pilot network will provide important information on the efficient function of such projects to those involved in similar initiatives, such as the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) which will be set up under the European Institute of Technology (EIT), as well as Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs).
The two year project is set to receive around €1.3 million in funding from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Education and Culture, which launched a call for proposals for pilot projects for cooperation between European Institutes of Technology in mid-2007.
The project is coordinated by Sweden's Uppsala University. 'It's fantastic to get this opportunity,' said project coordinator Håkan Engqvist. The project's other partners, who are based in Germany, Portugal, the UK, Hungary and the Netherlands, include all the relevant players in the technology transfer process.
The partners will have to resolve some tricky questions to make their pilot network a success. Can the network be a legal entity and can it co-own innovations? If a university works with a company, what does that mean for access to infrastructures, and how can the freedom of the researchers be guaranteed?
The question of patents and intellectual property is huge. As Professor Engqvist explained to CORDIS News, in Sweden researchers own their own results, but this is not the case in many other countries. How can this be resolved?
The field at the focus of the project is nanomedicine, with a particular focus on regenerative medicine. 'This is a hot research field,' explained Professor Engqvist. 'A few years ago biomaterials were used to repair damage to bodily organs, but today it's all about regenerating - growing back the organ on site in the body.' The precise direction of the research to be carried out will be decided within the framework of the project.
Uppsala University is well placed to lead the project. It recently set up a new unit called Uppsala University Innovation, which has been given the task of strengthening the university's innovation capacities. Internally, it works with researchers to teach them about intellectual property issues and business development. It also invites companies to enter into agreements with the university, and the unit has set up different levels of partnership to make this process easier.
'This is yet another step in our efforts to link Uppsala University's materials research to industry,' commented Lars Jonsson, Director of Uppsala University Innovation. 'This is proof that we are on the right path, and it establishes a valuable international network.'
Meanwhile for Professor Engqvist the two year project is just the first step of a wider plan to establish a long-lasting network in the field of regenerative medicine. 'I hope we will show that this network has the possibility to survive and grow,' he told CORDIS News.
These actions, known as ERA-NET Plus and developed under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), will help to structure the European Research Area and enhance the scale of Europe's common research efforts. iMERA-Plus, bringing together 32 national metrology institutions, will receive €21m from FP7, with Member States contributing a further €42 to carry out research into precise and reliable measurements. The European Commission will also allocate €9 million to BONUS+, a research programme to develop an ecosystem-based approach to management of the Baltic Sea, which will involve 8 Member States that border the Baltic, and Russia. The countries concerned will contribute a further €18.7 million.
"These two initiatives involve Member States pooling research programmes in very concrete areas, with top-up funding from the European budget," said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik "They mark another step in the direction of reinforcing the European Research Area. Borders are becoming less and less relevant for research cooperation, not only between researchers but also between those who fund research. During 2008 we will be making further proposals about how Member States can work together in programming their research."
Metrology is the science of precise and reliable measurements and is crucial to the functioning of economy and society. Many areas of scientific advance – for example, the manufacture of innovative technical products, the delivery of modern healthcare, and the protection of our environment - depend on a solid metrological basis. The first of the new joint programming actions announced today, "iMERA-Plus", brings together the national metrology institutions of 32 countries to put a single European Metrology programme into action by providing their national research funding for metrology R&D through joint calls for proposals. The action will total more than €63 million, with €42 million provided by the MS themselves, and 21 € million from the FP7 budget. By bringing national programmes together, iMERA-Plus will increase the impact of national investment in European metrology R&D and tackle the areas of most pressing metrological needs identified in the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP).
The second new action, "BONUS+", brings together the EU's eight Baltic Sea states (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden) and the Russian Federation to implement the first step of a joint Baltic Sea Research Programme focusing on introducing an ecosystem-based approach to management of the Baltic Sea, designed in a preceding ERA-NET action. BONUS+, which also takes the form of a joint call for proposals, is worth more than €27 million in total of which €18.7 million is allocated by the participating funding organisations and €9 million comes from FP7. BONUS+ provides a mechanism for the EU to secure a better future for an inland sea which, since the enlargement of the European Union in 2004, is almost totally surrounded by EU Member States. The research done by BONUS+ should enhance the understanding of and predictive capacity about the Baltic Sea ecosystem’s response to past, current and future changes caused by both nature and human induced pressures. It will also highlight important linkages between environmental problems and the social and economic dynamics involved in responding to them. In turn, the research should support the formation of a basis for prudent management aimed at safeguarding the sustainable use of the ecosystem’s goods and services.
The ERA-NET scheme is designed to develop and strengthen the coordination of national and regional research programmes through two specific actions:
Under the ERA-NET scheme, national and regional authorities identify research programmes they wish to coordinate or open up mutually. The participants in these actions are therefore typically ministries or regional authorities defining research programmes or research councils or other research funding agencies managing research programmes.
For more information on the ERA-NET Plus Actions please visit the FP7 website: http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/coordination/home_en.html
The management of intellectual property (IP) within a project funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) implies decisions to be taken by the participants individually or as a consortium on a variety of issues. In addition, the grant agreement establishes specific procedures to be followed before deciding on sensitive IP issues, such as the publication of data related to foreground or the granting of access rights to third parties. Finally, good IP management is always important for the implementation and success of a project and to open opportunities for commercial exploitation.
One of the core assumptions underlying the ERA (European Research Area) is that economies of scale and scope matter in research funding and execution, and that therefore coordination and collaboration in research funding and execution are beneficial for, and fragmentation and dispersal have a negative impact on, Europe's S&T (science and technology) performance. Because of gaps in the relevant research, this assumption remains largely to be validated. The purpose of this call for tender is to start filling those gaps and obtain a much better insight into when and where in research, economies of scale and scope matter.
Its specific objective is to achieve a better understanding of the conditions under which it might be beneficial for Member States to engage in the joint programming of research activities. The focus of this study is on the critical mass of European public R&D programmes.
For further information, please contact:
Directorate-General for Research
Attn: Mr Christian Svanfeldt
Contact: Directorate B, Unit B2
Fax: +32 2 296 2840
To see the full details of the call, please consult the following web address:
Remarks: The deadline for requesting tender documents is 22 February 2008.
The deadline for submitting tender documents is 29 February 2008.
Before contacting the Commission, tenderers are strongly advised to consult the original call text in the Official Journal of the European Union at the reference below.
Data Source Provider: Official Journal of the European Union
Document Reference: OJ No S 1-000061 of 3 January 2008
Subject Index: Policies; Coordination, Cooperation; Scientific Research; Evaluation
The European Court of Auditors questioned how the Commission has assessed the success of European research and technological development (RTD) funding programmes since 1995. Currently, Commission funding for technology research is running at €7.2 billion per year, compared with €2.7 billion per year under the Fourth Framework Programme (FP4).
The auditors would have liked to have seen more explicit underlying intervention logic, or description of causal links, between framework programme activities and expected outcomes.
'Poorly defined programme objectives and weak performance measurement undermined effective monitoring and evaluation,' said the Court of Auditors in a statement. 'The absence of a comprehensive evaluation strategy, agreed between the Research Directorates-General implementing the framework programmes, resulted in inconsistent approaches between the different Commission services,' states the report.
The Court of Auditors, a panel of financial experts that examines the management and overall efficiency of the EU's budget and bureaucracy, also drew attention to the Commission's plans for assessing its research programmes during the current phase of funding, which will last until 2013. Not many changes have been made.
'Evaluation of the framework programmes was decentralised, the existing coordination mechanisms among the Directorates-General implementing the framework programmes were not effective, and the Commission's central services, in particular [the] Directorate-General [that controls] budget, had no enforcement role,' said the auditors. 'Inadequate methodological guidance was provided, evaluators found difficulties in gathering relevant data, and there were no evaluation studies that addressed the longer term outcomes and impacts of the framework programmes.'
As a result of these weaknesses, the Commission evaluations of the schemes were of 'limited use to policy-makers', say the auditors. They found that ultimately, not enough was known about the achievement of programme objectives and the results of the last three framework programmes.
The Court's report went on to recommend that framework programme intervention logic should be made explicit through the legislation underlying Commission technology funding.
'Underlying assumptions should be explained, the link between scientific and socio-economic objectives clarified and appropriate performance indicators developed,' say the auditors.
They also call for the development of a comprehensive evaluation strategy for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
To maintain the world leading position of the European chemical industry various measures should be taken, like a strengthening of innovation networks, increasing the spending in Research and Development (R&D), a better developing of human resources and improving information and communications. These measures are proposed in a first set of recommendations, done by the High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the European Chemicals Industry, yesterday at a meeting.
The chemical industry is currently facing unprecedented challenges to maintaining competitiveness. The challenges include coping with increasingly costly energy and feedstock (mainly oil and gas), helping to mitigate global environmental pressures in particular from climate change and facing strong competition from emerging countries (e.g. China, Middle East and Russia). The chemicals industry is well placed to bring solutions to these problems and to exploit new opportunities. It provides innovations to most other industries and is a key component of value chains that end with the great majority of consumer products. To help the industry to overcome the present challenges and to exploit related opportunities, the High Level Group (HLG) however has made these first recommendations.
Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy said: “Europe must retain a strong manufacturing base in chemicals, not only because of its own huge contribution to wealth and jobs, but also because of its ability to generate innovations throughout industry as a whole. We need to promote innovation and competitiveness to ensure that the chemicals industry will always have a strategic placer the EU’s economy.”
Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik, who chaired the specific session of the High Level Group dedicated to research and innovation, said: "The future of the chemicals industry in Europe will depend ever more on its ability to innovate. Research plays a huge role in that. We are working with industry in a variety of ways to promote investment in research. Today's meeting will be another piece of the puzzle, which once completed will show a picture of a high performing, innovative and competitive chemicals industry in Europe."
The overall purpose of the HLG on the Competitiveness of the European Chemicals Industry, set up on 14 June 2007 by the European Commission, is to conduct a sound economic and statistical analysis of the factors determining the rapid structural change in the chemicals sector, and the competitive position of the European chemicals industry.
At its meeting on 18 December 2007, the HLG underlined that the numerous examples of best practice show that Europe’s chemicals industry and its strong research infrastructure are capable of meeting the innovation challenge. To address the challenges the sector is faced with, the HLG has formulated a first set of recommendations:
1. Strengthen innovation networks
2. Increase quantity and effectiveness of research and development:
3. Developing our human resources should start in primary schools
4. Improve information and communication
At the pre-commercial stage, when a product or service is not quite ready for the market, investment is key to research breakthroughs. But the investment can be at risk of non-return.
The Commission plans to encourage the procurement of public R&D spending during this phase in order to boost innovation in Europe. High technology areas such as information and communication technologies (ICT), healthcare and medicine are the focus of the proposal.
A major hurdle is that public spending cycles tend to operate on a significantly shorter time scale than technological innovation cycles.
'A clever use of the power of public procurement could be a great force for developing new, innovative solutions to existing challenges facing the public sector,' said EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik.
'Europe's public sector has massive buying power, but until now it has not found a clear way to strongly link mid- to long-term public purchasing needs with research and development programmes. This could become a lost opportunity for Europe if we do not act quickly,' added Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. The EU's use of public spending must be more 'proactive and pro-innovative', she said.
Europe is way behind its major competitors. In the US, the public sector spends USD 50 billion (€34.85 billion) every year on R&D procurement, which is 20 times higher than spending in the EU. This can be equated to half the research investment gap between the US and the EU.
The difference in R&D procurement expenditure is predominantly due to disparities in the defence and space budgets. However expenditure in areas such as health, energy, education, transport and the environment is still four times higher than in the EU.
This low spending in Europe is in spite of concrete examples of innovative solutions that have emerged from R&D procurements. These include Internet Protocol technology, the global positioning system, high performance computing and key innovations in semiconductor technology.
The communication explains that pre-commercial procurement differs from and complements other innovation instruments, such as grants, tax incentives, access to finance and Joint Technology Initiatives.
The debate that follows this communication should focus at first on mid- to long-term public needs that require the development of new technology solutions. 'The relevant public authorities and the Commission could then evaluate the potential role of pre-commercial procurement strategies in meeting the relevant policy objectives,' the Commission states.
On the basis of the debate, the Commission will then consider proposing a series of actions during the second half of 2008. The proposal would address pre-commercial procurement in areas of policy priority. The Commission may also support networking by theme (energy, environment, health, security) on pre-commercial procurement.
To access the communication in full, please http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/research/priv_invest/pcp/documents/commpcp.pdf
Competition Law is something that needs to be taken into account when it comes to license results under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Although there is no explicit mention to this, unlike under the previous programme, it is clear that any agreement licensing participants/third parties should respect Competition Law… But what is meant by Competition Law? What is relevant to FP7 participants in this regard? This brief document will try to give an overview of the basics of this branch of law at the EC level.
The European Research Council Executive Agency will help to manage the projects funded by the European Research Council (ERC), established under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). It will be responsible for around €7 billion over the course of FP7 (2007 to 2013).
The Research Executive Agency will administer the Marie Curie fellowship schemes, research programmes designed for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and parts of the space and security research themes. The arrangement is particularly suited to these areas of FP7 as they involve large numbers of relatively small grants, and are unlikely to involve much policy input. The agency will manage funding of €6.5 billion.
The agencies are intended to improve the efficiency of research management by the European Commission, providing the best possible service to the European research community.
'These agencies are good news for European research,' said EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik. 'Our aim is to make sure that as much of the Framework Programme as possible is dedicated to research. We already have one of the lowest levels of administrative expenditure internationally for a research programme. I have made it a priority to ensure that FP7 gives great service to the research community for less cost, and that as much money as possible can be used to finance research activities.'
Other FP7 measures intended to reduce the administrative burden include a reduction in reporting requirements, a new registration facility and a more streamlined computer system within the Commission.
The two agencies were proposed in the legal document establishing FP7, and were approved by both the Member States and the European Parliament in November. Both agencies will be based in Brussels.
VITO cordially invites you to participate in the international event “Innovation for Sustainable Production - i-SUP2008” from 22 to 25 April 2008. The event will be organized in Bruges, Belgium, at the unique site of Ancient Saint-John’s, located in the town centre.
This international event aims at assembling in a pleasant and stimulating environment different disciplines and technologies, each with their own conference, while offering the opportunity to join up and exchange knowledge and experience from diverse fields of innovation and technology to enhance innovative methods for a sustainable production.
The second training course in CREATE "Creating a Competitive ERA through the Empowerment of Young Researchers" - from 21st - 28th May 2008 in Antwerp, Belgium, is hosted by VITO. This is a European Community project through the Marie Curie Series of Events mobility program within the 6th framework.
CREATE is a series of events focusing on training on research management on an international level. Through participation in one or all events young researchers, engineers or technicians have the unique possibility to learn and improve their skills in creative thinking, networking, and multicultural cooperation - skills that too often are taken for granted.
Should you be interested in participating please contact: Inge Liekens: firstname.lastname@example.org before February 15th.
Further information is available here.
The EURO-TRANS network is organising a two-day event in Paris on 27th & 28th March to reinforce international cooperation between SMEs and the major European R&D players and industrial stakeholders in surface transport (road, rail, waterborne and intermodality).
The event will focus on building European R&D projects and networks for the 2nd call of the 7th Framework Programme.
â€¢ You will find here the pre-announcement of the event.
â€¢ More information concerning the agenda and the registration modalities will be communicated very shortly.
Since December 2007 the EARTO meeting facilities are available in a reconfigured format.
The EARTO first-floor meeting room is available for meetings of up to 16 participants at cost price to EARTO members.
Bigger meetings can be accommodated in a large, modern meeting room on the 5th floor of our building at a very attractive price.
Members are also welcome to use our small room suitable for up to five people free of charge.
For further information, please contact Birgitte Malz email@example.com at the EARTO Secretariat: +32-2-5028698
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