Publication date: 2006-05-12
We begin this week‘s CORDIS Express with news of a new communication from the European Commission aimed at shaking up Europe‘s university system. While European universities are pioneers in many research fields, many of them struggle to turn their results into commercial products or services.
News - Top Stories
Cutting-edge research has always been the preserve of universities, and is the reason they were first formed - to enquire. While European research remains vitally important, the ability of universities to transform research into economic benefit has been very much hit-and-miss. A Communication was adopted on 11 May, is intended as a contribution to the debate on the modernisation of EU's universities. It contains nine new proposals for universities, which address issues such as studying abroad or within industry, access to loans and the harmonisation of degrees.
'Ordinary men and women have the ability to change our lives, both socially and economically. And we treat them like dirt,' said British inventor Trevor Baylis, standing up for individual inventors the world over at a conference in Brussels on 3 May. Mr Baylis is best known for inventing the wind-up radio, intended primarily for developing countries. Speaking at the European Inventor of the Year conference, he called for children to be taught about IP at school, and he appealed to patent lawyers to act with 'decency'.
A new report warns that Europe is in danger of 'missing the boat' on commercial returns of nanotechnology, as the number of patent applications remain way below those from the US and Asia. Ironically, the report has been released in the same week that patent examiners in the European Patent Office (EPO) went on strike, complaining of over-work. The examiners believe that the increasing number applications they are asked to examine endangers the quality of their work.
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
Within the National Reform Programmes (NRPs), each of which were submitted to the Commission in the run-up to the Spring European Council, governments have committed to delivering policy measures in support of innovation. The current edition of European Innovation features an interview with Françoise Le Bail, Deputy Director-General in the Enterprise and Industry DG, who identifies interesting examples of innovative national support activities in France, Germany and Hungary, and explains why she thinks that the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), although small in terms of budget, will be very effective in supporting the Lisbon Agenda. Other items in this edition include an interview with Esko Aho, former Finnish Prime Minister; and two features on how the single market in Europe enables policy-makers to pave the way for innovation, and encourage market actors to introduce new products, methods and processes.
Future of Research
The European Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee has tabled 1700 amendments to the Commission's proposal for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). However, starting the programme on time is more important, than 'small changes', according to MEP Jerzy Buzek, the rapporteur on FP7. The rapporteur said that the Commission's proposal is 'good', but that the Parliament would like to make it 'excellent'. 'I'm just trying to keep it together. With 1700 ideas it very easy to lose the concept,' said Mr Buzek.
A series of outbreaks of the highly infectious classical swine fever (also known as 'hog cholera') virus has triggered further controls in the North-Rhine Westphalia region of Germany. The disease is infectious only to pigs and boar, but is highly contagious and often fatal. Today, the EU's framework programme continues to investigate the cause and spread of diseases such as swine fever. A recent tender called for research proposals into swine fever, foot and mouth and related diseases, including the development of vaccines.
The 13th Congress on Alternatives to Animal Testing will take place in Linz, Austria, from 2 to 4 June. The congress will also host the tenth annual meeting of MEGAT - Middle European Society for Alternative Methods to Animal Testing. This congress will include poster sessions and lectures, dealing with the following topics: ethical and legal aspects in animal experimentation; ecotoxicology; good cell culture practice; in vitro models for testing long term (chronic) toxicity.
A conference on nanotechnologies and the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) will take place on 23 May in Turin, Italy. The event is one in a series organised by CRUI, (the Conference of Rectors of Italian Universities). The visions and future activities for universities and research centres; industry and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and public administrations will be discussed. Speakers will represent the European Commission, academia and industry.
Calls and Tenders
The European Commission's Information Society and Media Commission has published a call for tenders for the move towards a European e-infrastructure for e-science digital repositories. The contract is to provide a reliable overview of European digital repositories of e-science information, data and knowledge. To achieve that, the contractor will interface relevant scientific communities in different Member States and analyse their approach to developing digital repositories of experimental data sets, journals, theses and associated information.
Dimethyl ether (DME), a colourless gaseous etherl, has emerged in recent years as an attractive, promising, alternative clean fuel for transportation. DME Research Cambs, a UK SME, is developing products related to the gas for use in engines which will be run on land or sea. The SME is looking for other companies working in the DME technology field that may be interested in collaboration on research projects or product development.
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 FP7 Partners Service, which also features an advanced search facility.
What are the latest developments in farm animal cloning? What do we know about public attitudes and ethical concerns towards such scientific advances? How is animal biotechnology regulated in the EU? The CLONING IN PUBLIC project is aiming to facilitate public debate on these questions and others, and make recommendations for European regulation, and for guidelines on research regarding the use of farm animal cloning, such as genetically modified animals for bio-reactors.
The emerging interactive services using Digital TV are expected to become a key technological market in coming years. Taking advantage of these advances, the Social Aid Interactive Developments (SAID) project has developed innovative information services for providing more efficient social assistance and basic care for elderly persons and the disabled. The services, which are made available through a regular television, monitors users’ interests and needs and prompts them, through pop-up messages, with suggested information topics. Further collaboration is now sought with distributors, venture capital investors and communications carriers.
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…
Now that spring has sprung, with longer days and bearable weather, there is a drawback for a large minority – hayfever. Hayfever, or pollen allergy, affects up to one in four of us. But, help is at hand...