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Neelie Kroes

Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda

Future and Emerging Technologies at the service of Europeans

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Science beyond Fiction: Future and Emerging Technologies exhibition at the European Parliament

Strasbourg, 20 April 2010

Mr President, your Excellencies, dear ladies and Gentlemen,

I warmly thank Ms Graça Carvalho for hosting this event.

Experimental research is key to unlocking future creativity, productivity growth and social progress. If we want to know how to help support our ageing population or reduce climate you need very ambitious research to support these goals.

I would therefore like to pay tribute to the distinguished scientists present here today. These women and men are at the heart of why ICTs are taking on bigger and bigger roles in our lives.

What you will see today is visionary and risky ICT research at its very best. Bringing different disciplines together to make far-fetched ideas real.

As the first 'flagship' under the E2020 strategy the Commission is developing a comprehensive "Digital Agenda for Europe" - in that Agenda we will be advocating for more funding for research of the type you see on display today.

Since it's inception in 1989, the Future and Emerging Technologies programme has grown in reputation.

  • Three Nobel Prize-winners since 2005 (Theodor Hänsch, Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg) were involved in FET

  • Projects like FACETS and BRAIN-i-NETs that are starting to successfully simulate parts of the brain The CYBERHAND and SMARTHAND projects developing an intelligent artificial hand that looks, feels, and functions like a real hand. Controlled by the brain and enabling amputees to perform again complex day-to-day tasks!

  • Europe is now producing half of the scientific knowledge worldwide in Quantum information technologies – making our networks more secure thanks to EU funding.

Where to next?

My vision is to build on these successes by bringing a new level of ambition to Future and Emerging Technology research.

To double the investment in FET by 2015, up from €100m today. I am calling on Member States to match this effort with their own investments.

And to meet the great scientific challenges of our day with two flagship programmes to be decided by 2012. Not just any projects – but 10-20 year projects that are funded to bring the absolute best together to meet one scientific goal. We have not yet narrowed the shortlist of project ideas –this work will be on the scale of ambition of the Human Genome Project.

I have this vision because we need desperately to make better use of Europe's brilliant minds. Not only bringing the disciplines together – but also doing more to include the young and dynamic; and also high-tech SMEs.

For example, I met some of these young researchers in Madrid last week at a fantastic event called Campus Party. They are all doing amazing things, but not in traditional research programmes. We must change this - we must bring their energy into the EU tent, for the benefit of all of us.

Such research will pave the way for generations of growth and prosperity for us all. I now invite you to see some of the EU’s most recent remarkable achievements for yourself.

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