Publication date: 2005-04-22
The three news stories featured in this week‘s CORDIS Express all illustrate aspects of the European Union‘s strategy to become and remain a strong contender in the race to become the most competitive region in the world.
News - Top Stories
EIROforum, the group representing seven of Europe's largest intergovernmental research organisations, has published a policy paper outlining the practical steps it can take to help the EU meet its competitiveness goals. The paper, dubbed 'the blue book', analyses the scientific challenges implied by the Lisbon agenda, and details the conditions that must be in place in order for Europe to meet them. A number of concrete initiatives that the EIROforum member organisations could undertake to help foster those conditions are also proposed.
The European Commission has adopted a communication calling on Member States to introduce reforms that will allow Europe's universities to better contribute to the EU goal of becoming the world's most competitive knowledge-based economy. 'Mobilising the brainpower of Europe: enabling universities to make their full contribution to the Lisbon Strategy' follows up the Commission's 2003 communication on the role of universities in the Europe of knowledge, and the stakeholder consultation that followed. It warns that if action is not taken urgently, the current education and research investment gap between Europe and its leading competitors will continue to widen.
The European Commission has unveiled a new Mutual Learning Platform (MLP) for research and innovation in EU regions, designed to encourage regional policy makers to share their experiences and enable regions to participate fully in the knowledge-based society. The platform is a joint initiative of the Commission's Enterprise and Industry, Research, Regional Policy and Information Society DGs, with the active involvement of the Committee of the Regions (CoR). It pulls together a number of existing Community initiatives for greater coherence, such as regional foresight activities, the European Innovation TrendChart and Scoreboard, and the Regions of Knowledge pilot actions.
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
Before drafting proposals for the new Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), the Commission examined and rejected a number of other options, as outlined in a staff working paper annexed to the proposal. As the paper notes, several programmes have been running at EU level for some time addressing the same issues that the CIP will seek to tackle: the promotion of entrepreneurship; the stimulation of innovation in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT); and support for the fostering of energy efficiency.
Future of Research
While recent high profile developments such as the publication of programme proposals for research and innovation and discussions with Japan on where to build a thermonuclear reactor were on the table at the Competitiveness Council on 18 April, they were not the focus of attention. The principal topic of conversation, at the instigation of the Luxembourg Presidency, was human resources. 'We stressed the necessity of preparing consistent integrated human resources strategies focusing on four main themes: financing for training and the development of research as a career; improving the career outlook for researchers; promoting equality between men and women in science; and improving the general environment for researchers in Europe,' said Luxembourg's Minister for Culture, Higher Education and Research, François Biltgen.
The Sixth Framework Programme service is the starting point when looking for FP6 information on CORDIS. Developments relating to the European Research Area (ERA) initiative can be found on our ERA Gateway.
The recent UN report on the state of the planet revealed that 60 per cent of the ecosystems that sustain life on Earth have been damaged - an alarming development, especially in terms of marine ecosystems that play a crucial role in controlling the climate, says the French Research Minister, François d'Aubert. Speaking at the launch of a new Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) project on ocean ecosystems, Mr D'Aubert welcomed the EUR-OCEANS project aimed at developing advanced modelling tools through the study of the evolution of marine ecosystems in relation to climatic change and fishery issues.
A conference on biological wastewater treatment plants will be held from 16 to 20 May in Milan, Italy. The topics covered will include: principles of biological waste water treatment; nitrification and denitrification; biofilters; biological risks; biofiltration of the air; and microbiological control of foaming and bulking.
An information day entitled 'Experiences in FP6 - towards FP7' will take place in Budapest, Hungary, on 19 April. The aim of the event is to give floor to governmental representatives and project coordinators from Central and Eastern Europe to voice their opinions and possible concerns on the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), and especially the use of the new instruments. Based on the information day, recommendations regarding FP7 will be presented to DG Research.
Calls and Tenders
The Commission's Enterprise and Industry DG has published a call for tenders for the development and testing of better services in support of innovation management. The aim of this action is to better assist enterprises in their efforts to innovate and promote a European-wide benchmarking and innovation culture. The contract will involve the undertaking of an in-depth assessment of existing tools and instruments that help companies to improve innovation management. It will involve testing different approaches and developing a prototype for a European self-assessment tool.
A UK company that produces herbal-derived cosmetics wishes to expand its product line to large-scale manufacturing. It is therefore seeking alliances that will assist in outsourcing active ingredients and testing product performance using skin models and assays. The comapny is also seeking industrial partners that understand their local market and can assist with quality control and distribution channels.
The CORDIS Partners Service publish partner profiles and find research collaborators to take part in EU-funded research, join a consortium or run a private collaboration in your area of interest. You can also search by profile type, programme and/or country to Find project partners for FP6 and FP7. To find partners for the Sixth Framework Programme, go to our FP6 Partners Service, which also features an advanced search facility.
The BIODEFENCE project, funded under the New and Emerging Science and Technologies (NEST) section of the FP6, is developing a completely new rapid immunisation mechanism. The method involves the genetic engineering of Lactobacilli - microorganisms that live in the human gastrointestinal tract - so that they express antibodies of multiple specificities. After ingestion, the microorganisms colonise the intestinal mucosa and secrete antibodies enabling rapid protection from bioterrorism agents and emerging diseases.
Within the BIOCOGEN project, reserachers have been reviewing greenhouse gas emissions from biomass cogeneration and compared them with fossil fuel energy systems. The report on these comparisons provides details of a series of computer models that were created to monitor the greenhouse gas emissions from different fuel systems. The results of the project illustrate the clear benefits of using biomass-based energy systems, and as such will be useful for utilities industries. The partners now seek support for further research and development, as well as information exchange arrangements.
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.
Finally and briefly…
If you have ever thought that The Powers That Be at your workplace are a few directors short of a board meeting (as this column often has), you may be pleased to discover that your suspicions could have a basis in scientific fact...