Brussels, 18 September 2012
Digital Agenda: Commission and European industry commit to bigger and better robotics sector
The European Commission, industry and academia have agreed to launch a Public Private Partnership (PPP) in Robotics, to help Europe-based companies take a larger share of the €15.5 billion annual global robotics market. Representatives from European robotics manufacturers, research institutes joined European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes in signing a Memorandum of Understanding, the first step towards a PPP launch in 2013. The Commission believes that the future PPP will strengthen the EU robotics sector.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, said "A strong robotics industry is key to Europe's future competitiveness. Growing our robotics industry means new jobs and a strong European manufacturing sector. "
Robotics is a key driver for Europe's growth and competitiveness. Three millions jobs are created or maintained worldwide as a result of using one million industrial robots. Europe's robotics industry is highly successful, accounting for about a quarter of the global production in industrial robotics and a 50% market share in professional service robotics. The domestic and professional service robot markets are expected to grow by 40% in the coming years with the strongest growth in rescue, security and professional cleaning applications. By 2020, service robotics could reach a market volume of more than 100 billion euros per year. The PPP in Robotics aims to:
1. Develop strategic goals for European robotics and foster their implementation;
2. Improve the industrial competitiveness of Europe through innovative robotic technologies;
3. Provide robotic products and services as key enablers to help solve Europe‘s societal challenges;
4. Strengthen the networking activities of the European robotics community;
5. Promote European robotics;
6. Reach out to existing and new users and markets;
7. Contribute to policy development and address ethical, legal and societal issues.
The private partners in the PPP (from academia and industry) will now prepare a proposal for the PPP for, the Commission to examine and formally endorse.
The European Commission has funded more than 120 robotics research projects with around €600 million in the last five years. They address topics such as scene and situation understanding, perceiving the world through artificial senses (computer vision, haptics etc) and physical behaviour such as grasping objects or locomotion in everyday spaces. The global demand for robots and robot-related products was worth around €15.5 billion in 2010, including around €3 billion in Europe.
A recent Eurobarometer study on robotics (see MEMO/12/667) revealed that more than two-thirds of EU citizens (70%) have a positive view of robots; the majority agree that robots "are necessary as they can do jobs that are too hard or too dangerous for people" (88%) and that "they are a good thing for society because they help people" (76%).
The European Commission also supports Robotics research through its research and innovation framework funding programmes. The European Parliament and Council are currently discussing the Commission's proposal for Horizon 2020.Running from 2014 to 2020 with an indicative €80 billion budget, the programme is part of the drive to create new growth and jobs in Europe. Boosting and focussing the EU's research, development and innovation efforts is a key element of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).
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