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Commission calls for doubling funding for ICT research and innovation

European Commission - IP/09/397   13/03/2009

Other available languages: FR DE

IP/09/397

Brussels, 13 March 2009

Commission calls for doubling funding for ICT research and innovation

Making Europe the world leader in ICT is the goal of the new strategy proposed today by the European Commission. Today Europe represents 34% of the global information and communication technologies (ICT) market, and its value is growing by 4% per year. However, the value added produced by the EU's ICT sector amounts to only 23% of the total, because both Europe's market and research efforts are fragmented. As a result, Europe is lagging behind its global competitors in ICT research and in the production of innovative ICT-based products and services. The strategy proposed calls on Member States and industry to pool resources and work together more in ICT research and innovation. The strategy also proposes showcase ICT innovation projects to deliver modern services infrastructures in areas like healthcare and energy efficiency.

"For decades to come, ICT will underpin the competitiveness of our economy, the efficiency of our public services and our quality of life. Europe represents the largest share of the world's ICT market. Our economic performance and jobs depend on these technologies. Our task is to make sure that Europe is well-equipped to harness the potential of technologies like the internet or mobile phones. This means taking concrete steps to ensure that Europe takes pole position to shape and benefit from ICT developments," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "That’s why the Commission is proposing steps to seize the opportunities of new developments such as the Future Internet, web-based services and nanoelectronics. These are key in spurring economic upturn. If Europe wants to be ambitious and take the lead, we should double both private and public investments in ICT research by 2020."

ICT represents 12 million jobs in Europe and the ICT sector represents 6% of EU GDP. The sector is driving innovation and competitiveness in all sectors of the economy. But there is an important gap between what Europe produces and what it consumes in this knowledge-intensive field.

EU investment in strengthening its capacity to research, develop and market innovative ICT is not only smaller than its competitors but also heavily fragmented. Public and private investment in ICT research in Europe is less than half that of the US and the EU attracts five times less venture capital than the US.

The new ICT Research and Innovation Strategy put forward by the Commission today proposes to mobilise resources for three interlinked paths of action:

  • In the next decade Europe should double its investments in ICT research and innovation. The Commission will increase the annual funding available under the ICT part of its overall research programme from €1.1 in 2010 to €1.7 billion in 2013. Member States should match this budget increase at national level with diverted and new sources of financing including pre-commercial procurements of research results and cohesion policy funds.
  • Europe should be the home for more world-class poles of excellence in ICT. Europe needs to make ICT research careers more attractive to bridge the current skills gap. Member States should share strategies and better coordinate resources to make sure that research and innovation take place on the cutting edge, in first-rate facilities, on technologies like embedded electronic devices and software for safe and clean cars – fields with a significant socio-economic impact driving innovation.
  • The right conditions should be in place for market developments and for new public private partnerships for ICT-based solutions that are competition and innovation friendly. ICT research and innovation should be integrated into EU policy areas such as health, energy and transport with more collaboration between users and producers. A set of pan-European projects will showcase innovative ICT solutions, for modernising public services such as ICT for chronic disease management and a pan-European electronic ID infrastructure.

Background:

Today's communication forms part of the preparations for a European plan for innovation and research as called for by the European Council in December 2008. It is also part of the Commission's response to the recommendations of the Aho Panel's evaluation of ICT research and development in the EU's overall research programme (IP/08/1288, MEMO/08/430).

The proposed strategy builds on several existing initiatives and actions, in particular the i2010 ICT policy framework, the broad-based EU innovation strategy and the initiatives launched in the framework of the European Research Area related to ICT

It follows a public consultation, launched in September 2008, on a European research and innovation strategy for ICT (IP/08/1287).

The full text of the Communication can be found on:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/tl/research/documents/ict-rdi-strategy.pdf

The accompanying Commission Staff Working Paper can be found on:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/tl/research/documents/ict-rdi-strategy-staffwd.pdf


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