Researchers send in thousands of new ideas for European research

Universities, companies and research centres have sent more than 15,000 ideas for European research projects to the European Commission. More than 100,000 groups and institutions were involved in drafting the ideas; the proposed teams involve potentially several hundreds of thousands of researchers across Europe and beyond. In a radical departure from previous programmes and for the first time, on March 20, 2002, the Commission asked the scientific community to say what they see as the most promising topics for cutting edge research in the 6th Research Framework Programme, due to be launched in autumn this year. Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin is encouraged by the massive response. “It shows that the European Research Area is becoming a reality”, he said. “The strong response also demonstrates that our researchers have many good ideas. That much more funding for research is needed in Europe through a co-ordinated investment by Member States. It is an encouraging sign as we work towards the EU’s target of investing 3% of GDP in research by 2010. Our researchers want to work together and share efforts with the best of their field in other countries. They want to work together in a new way at the European level, namely in projects or networks with sufficient critical mass to meet global scientific or technological challenges.”

Encouraging closer links between researchers all over the EU is a key priority for the European Commission. EU action to pool resources, to bring together research teams in different countries and to share expertise is essential if the EU is to compete both scientifically and economically in the global marketplace. Without EU action, compartmentalisation of EU member state’s research efforts, duplication of research efforts and failure to share expertise would continue to undermine EU competitiveness.

The European Parliament and the European Council decided earlier this month on the main orientations of the 6th Framework Programme, which will have a 4-year budget of EUR 17,5 billion. The Commission invited companies, universities and research centres to express their interest for research projects or networks in the fields of genomics and life sciences, information technologies, nanotechnologies, aerospace, food safety, sustainable development and social sciences. Submissions are split roughly equally between integrated projects and networks of excellence, the new modes of working in the European research programmes.

In an effort to promote partnering and collaboration, the Commission will publish all expressions of interest over the summer on a dedicated web site. An analysis of the ideas received will be made public in September 2002 and will feed into the drafting of the detailed work programmes, which form the basis for the calls for proposals to be published at the end of this year.

Background

The Sixth EU Framework Programme for Research and Development will run from 2002 to 2006. It is designed as an instrument to help realise a European Research Area, an objective initially set by the European Commission and endorsed by the Heads of state and government at their spring summits. The new Framework Programme is based on 4 main principles: promoting scientific excellence, concentrating on a limited number of priorities with a true European added value, structuring and integrating European and national efforts, and simplifying procedures.

Fabio FABBI: 02 2964174
Lone MIKKELSEN : 02 2960567

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Fabio Fabbi EU Commission

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