Publication date: 2002-11-29
When finance ministers have to cut spending in order to balance their budgets, public investment in research can be one of the first areas to suffer. However, although the political fallout is not as dangerous as it is when cuts are made to health or education spending, the long term consequences can be just as negative. Our top story in this week's CORDIS Express concerns recent Member State budget announcements that are worrying members of the research community and the European Parliament.
News - Top Stories
The European Parliament swung behind the Commission this week to send a clear message to Member States: increase your spending on research so that the investment target of 3 per cent of GDP can be met by 2010. EU governments currently spend around 1.9 per cent of GDP on research and although they have committed themselves to a dramatic increase by 2010, recent budget announcements have not matched the commitments made. In a week when the German government announced a freeze on funding for large research institutes, MEPs also drew attention to the French government's apparent reduction of its research spending by 13 per cent.
The Innovation Relay Centre (IRC) network is partially funded by the European Community for their facilitation of technology transfer across Europe. At the seventh annual meeting of the network on 20-22 November, IRC representatives and Commission officials reviewed their performance over the last year and discussed a possible reduction in the amount of a Community funds going to the IRCs. Senior Commission officials also revealed that they were working with Member States on the formulation of an 'integrated approach to innovation policy in Europe'.
The EU Competitiveness Council has asked the Commission to implement a 'roadmap' for increased cooperation between sectors and between Member States in the field of biotechnology. The Commission will monitor the competitiveness of EU biotechnology and take measures to stimulate cross-sectoral coordination. Research ministers also agreed on a more general commitment to consult with one another when implementing national research policies.
These articles have been taken from CORDIS News, a daily news service updated every weekday lunchtime. For more research and innovation headlines, go to the CORDIS News homepage.
Focus on Innovation
The view that productivity growth in the EU is lagging behind that of the US may have been overstated because of the calculation method used. The European Commission is now arguing that measuring GDP per employed worker is misleading because of the large increase in part time work in the EU. Commission officials believe that the most accurate figures come from GDP per hour worked - this method of calculation leaves the EU with a more healthy productivity growth. Apart from their relevance for general economic data, these statistical revisions have implications for our understanding of the performance of high-tech enterprises in Europe.
Future of Research
Details were published on CORDIS this week concerning the 'new and emerging science and technology' (NEST) programme - a new activity area under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Standing slightly apart from other Framework Programme activities, NEST aims to support unconventional research that has the potential to open up new fields for European science and technology. Researchers should find this one of the more flexible funding opportunities under FP6.
The Sixth Framework Programme service is the focal point for FP6 information on CORDIS. Developments relating to the European Research Area (ERA) initiative can be found ERA.
Greece is employing elaborate technology systems in its logistical and security preparations for the 'Athens 2004' Olympic Games. In their 'Integration Laboratory', tests are being run on the technology systems that will be used for 37 sports and a range of additional operations. The Greek security system will check the entrance of individuals with an electronic camera that recognises peoples' identity from the unique composition of the irises of their eyes.
A national conference to launch the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) in Italy will be held in Rome on 6, 9 and 10 December. The event will include presentations on each of the seven thematic priorities of FP6, as well as discussions on mobility and research infrastructures. Speakers will range from academics and researchers to politicians, such as MEP and member of the European Parliament's industry committee, Giuseppe Nisticò.
The Dutch launch of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) in Rotterdam on 10 December will be structured around three themes. These are: the thematic priorities of FP6, workshops on practical topics such as project management and intellectual property rights, and finally, special interest sessions, which will address issues such as the European research area (ERA), topics relating to small and medium sized enterprises and local government issues.
Calls and Tenders
The European Commission has published a call for tenders for studies on factors and policies conducive to the implementation of environmental management systems in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The contracter will study the issue in relation to EU Member States, a number of candidate countries and Norway.
More calls and tenders can be viewed in the Calls section of CORDIS News.
Via Donau is an Austrian governmental organisation responsible for the development of the Danube waterway. They are looking for FP6 partners around the extended Danube corridor to work with them on the development of transport and logistics services that will encourage freight traffic to shift from roadways to the Danube waterway. Their activities range from logistical and technology projects to public relations work and lobbying in favour of the Danube waterway.
The CORDIS Partners Service, recently redesigned, now provides a more user-friendly way of finding a research collaborator in order to benefit from EU or other funding. You can also search by profile type, programme and/or country to Find project partners for FP6 and FP7.
An Italian-led consortium has been awarded 1.6 million euro under the Fifth Framework Programme for a 2million euro research project on improving blind people's access to mathematical texts in secondary schools and universities. Focussing on Braille print and digital formats, the researchers want to develop an editor that will teach maths to the blind through an easily convertible code. Blind people face serious difficulties in the mathematical arena because no products or prototypes that adequately meet their needs are currently available on the market.
Electromagnetic tomography (EMT) constructs images of the inner parts of an object by detecting its magnetic/inductive properties. A group of British and Portugese researchers has been looking at how the method is used for the inspection of products and processes in the industrial and academic sectors. They have produced an EMT modular system which they believe has the potential to become an excellent inspection tool for people working in mineral extraction or the chemical and metal products industry.
All emerging technologies featured in this marketplace are awaiting further exploitation, be it production, marketing, funding or further development. To see the range of new offers that are posted every week, go to Technology Marketplace.