Brussels, 4 September 2008
Cut red tape to attract venture capital to cutting edge high-tech research, Commission tells Parliament and Council
The Commission today called on the Parliament and Council to support a new drive to cut red tape and allow greater flexibility to make European high-tech research more effective. It was responding to the 'Aho report', the most comprehensive evaluation of EU ICT research yet, looking beyond the management of research to evaluate its impact on innovation. The report highlighted that EU research could be of greater benefit for European competitiveness by involving and supporting high growth companies and providing better links between research and venture capital. The Commission, which has launched several initiatives to involve leading companies in research (IP/08/910, IP/08/824, IP/08/785), is committed to making the information and communications technology (ICT) research it supports more effective in terms of delivering business opportunities. It is also launching a public consultation that will feed into proposals to this end in early 2009.
"European ICT research is a world leader in telecommunications and audiovisual systems and in application areas such as intelligent cars and medicine. However, we are falling behind in terms of the level and intensity of ICT research spending and we consistently fail to commercialise research results," said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "EU ICT research must be turned into growth, jobs and competitiveness. For this to happen we need a Single Market approach to ICT research and innovation. We need less administrative red tape and risk-aversion and a more proactive policy environment. We did this with in mobile phones, today there are 3 billion in use worldwide on the European GSM standard. We can do it again."
The Commission is set to invest €9 billion in high-tech research under its ICT research programme between 2007 and 2013. Today it responded to the main findings of a report on its ICT research published by a panel headed by former Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho (MEMO/08/430). EU research from 2003 until 2006 received €4 billion funding, bringing together over 4500 research organisations and resulted in world-leadership of areas of technology research, like 45 nanometre miniaturised chips that can be used in smaller and more functional PCs and mobile phones.
The Aho report highlighted the need to cut red tape to attract more SMEs to EU research and said that more needed to be done to ensure commercialisation of research results. This includes more public-private partnerships such as the Joint Technology initiatives for nanoelectronics (IP/08/284) and embedded systems (IP/08/283) for which the Commission invested €5 billion earlier this year.
It also recommended actions to further cut administrative burdens to make it easier for innovative companies to participate in EU research and turn its results into products and services for consumers in Europe and beyond (shorter, simpler application procedures, for example). The Parliament and the Council are now invited to support the Commission in developing a more risk-tolerant approach to supporting research in the EU.
To maximise the impact of its ICT research on growth and jobs, the Commission also wants a more innovation-friendly environment where it would be easier for high-growth companies to link to venture capital and to develop standards for innovative new products. These are some of the issues that will be addressed by a public consultation on ICT research being launched in parallel with today's Communication (IP/08/1287).
The Communication and the "Aho Report" on the Effectiveness of Information Society Research in the EU's 6th Framework Programme 2003-2006 are available at: