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IP/05/162

Brussels, 10 February 2005

Expert panel supports Commission proposal to boost research funding

An expert panel led by Dr Erkki Ormala, Vice President of Technology Policy at Nokia, has concluded that the European Union’s Research and Development Programmes have made a major contribution to the development of Europe’s knowledge base and have a positive effect on Europe’s potential for innovation. However the panel found that if this positive effect is to be continued, more resources will be needed in the future. The panel also recommended more industry participation, especially SMEs; streamlined and simplified administration; and more emphasis on radical innovation and risk-taking.

On being handed the panel’s final report, Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Science and Research said: “It is encouraging to receive the panel’s assessment that the Framework Programmes have contributed to the creation of a knowledge society in Europe, and this report will provide considerable inspiration for the design of the next programme. I especially share the view that Europe needs to gain world leadership in certain key technologies”.

The report identifies 4 major challenges for EU research:

  • Attracting and rewarding the best talent;
  • Creating a high-potential environment for business and industrial research;
  • Mobilising resources for innovation and sustainable growth; and
  • Building trust in science and technology.

The panel found that the EU’s Research Framework Programmes had played an important part in developing a European knowledge base, correcting some of the deficiencies of European R&D and bridging the gap between research and innovation. Indeed they found that funding at European level gave significant added value over and above national research investment.

The experts supported the Commission’s proposal to double European R&D spending in the budget for the 2007-2013 spending period, but added that to be effective, this increase needed to be met by increased spending on R&D at national level.

There was also a view that the Framework Programme needed to work within an environment that was supportive of business and industrial R&D. For example, there must be strong links with intellectual property rights and the Community patent, state aid rules, and public procurement policy.

There were also a number of recommendations for the future Framework Programme, to be proposed by the Commission later in 2005:

  • A clearer vision of priorities and objectives of the programme, with emphasis on the promotion of European leadership in science and technology at global level;
  • More industry involvement, especially for high-tech small- and medium-sized enterprises;
  • Address the issue of trust and legitimacy of science and technology, forging greater understanding of and support to science among the European public;
  • A simple and robust definition of European added value;
  • Streamlined and simplified administration of the application procedure, management and financial control;
  • Extend human resource and mobility programmes, with emphasis on mobility between the private and public sectors;
  • Support for establishment of a European Research Council to promote excellence.
  • Support for technology platforms, public/private partnerships to develop European leadership in key sectors.

The panel was composed of 13 leading European figures from research management and evaluation, universities, research organisations and industry.

The report is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/research/reports/2004/fya_en.html


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