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What is NMP?

Objectives of NMP

Nanotechnology and nanosciences, knowledge-based multifunctional materials and new production processes and devices (NMP) is the Third Thematic Priority of the Focusing and Integrating research part of the Sixth Framework Programme aimed at Industrial research - which remains a key objective of FP6 in a changing world. Against the political background and imperatives of :
the NMP thematic priority focuses on the following challenging areas:
  • Nanotechnology - a flagship for the next industrial revolution
  • Multifunctional knowledge-based materials - critical drivers of innovation
  • New production processes and devices - the key to sustainable development
The underlying objective is to move towards a knowledge-based and more environmentally friendly industry through an integrated approach combining materials sciences, nanotechnology, production technologies, information technologies, biotechnologies, etc.
This means capacity to move towards knowledge-based products and processes :
  • breakthrough in new applicable knowledge and long-term RTD
  • wider scope for industrial research (environment, health, energy, employment, education and training, legal and financial aspects, science and society)
  • ensuring multi-disciplinarity, cross-sectoral and life-cycle approaches
  • integration of actors, sectors, expertise, disciplines, technologies, activities, funds.

Structure of NMP
Nanotechnologies and nanosciences
Nanotechnologies and nanosciences represent a new approach to materials science and engineering, as well as for design of new devices and processes. Europe enjoys a strong position in the nanosciences that needs to be translated into a real competitive advantage for European industry. The objective is twofold: to promote the creation of an RTD-intensive European nanotechnology related industry, and to promote the uptake of nanotechnologies in existing industrial sectors. Research may be long-term and high risk, but will be oriented towards industrial application and/or co-ordination of efforts at EU level. An active policy of encouraging industrial companies and SMEs, including startups, will be pursued through the promotion of strong industry/research interactions in consortia undertaking projects with substantial critical mass. Research and development activities should also promote development of new professional skills. Whenever appropriate, societal, health, ethical and regulatory issues, and in particular metrology aspects, should be addressed. Knowledge-based Multifunctional Materials
New, high knowledge-content materials, providing new functionalities and improved performance, will be critical drivers of innovation in technologies, devices and systems, benefiting sustainable development and competitiveness through multi-sectoral applications. Since these applications have a strong impact on individuals and on society as a whole, a new research culture will be required. RTD activities are expected to be high risk, inter and multidisciplinary, long term and generic, with potential benefits in material, maintenance and energy savings as well as on health, safety and the environment. Breakthroughs will come not only from the new materials developed but also from new processing and from the new approaches taken for example using renewable raw materials. To assure Europe's strong position in emerging technology markets the various actors need to be mobilised through leading edge RTD partnerships and high-risk research. New Production Processes and Devices
New production concepts need to be designed, based on breakthrough organisational, quality and technological developments, supporting new products, processes and services. The goal is to support the transformation of the European industry towards a more knowledge-based and added value industry and improved competitiveness and sustainability. To this end it is vital to provide the industrial systems of the future with the necessary tools for efficient life-cycle design, production, use and recovery, decreasing at the same time internal and external costs and reducing major accident hazards. Appropriate organisational models and improved knowledge management should support technological developments and innovation routes. Flagship research projects need to be carried out, highlighting the importance of collaboration between research and industry, the major outcome of which would be a framework for "manufacturing in 2010" based on improved co-ordination and integration of research efforts at European level. Integration of nanotechnologies, new materials, and new production technologies for improved security and quality of life
This area has been added to the three first areas, as defined in the specific programme, due to the "integrating" challenge of the expected output and due also to the number of EoIs received on the subject. A specific target should indeed be to put materials science and advanced industrial technologies at the service of health. In this context, integration of technological developments, and in particular of the new generation of smart and hybrid materials interacting with their surrounding and related manufacturing equipment, is bringing huge potential for the development of sensors, actuators and devices, leading to a greater security and safety of people and the environment.
FP6 NMP represents a radical departure from previous Framework Programmes. In particular, this means the use of new instruments: Integrated Projects (IPS)
As far as priority 3 is concerned, IPs should be breakthrough-driven and contain a coherent set of activities including RTD, innovation-related activities, training, knowledge-management and last but not least, dialogue with the public. Its main objectives consist of new applicable knowledge. Networks of Excellence (NOES)
As far as priority 3 is concerned, NoEs should be aimed at strengthening European S&T; excellence by means of progressive and lasting integration of a critical mass of research capacities in selected areas. They should have long-term objectives and contribute to advancing knowledge for sustainability, competitiveness and dynamism of EU industry. and the traditional instruments providing continuity with the past: Specific targeted research Projects
An evolved form of the shared-cost RTD and demonstration projects of FP5, addressing ambitious and highly creative research and targeted at exploring frontiers of knowledge or innovation-driven projects for SMEs. Co-ordination actions
A continuation of the concerted actions/thematic networks used in FP5, intended to strengthen the links between different research initiatives, such as Eureka, COST, ESF, national and Commission RTD activities. Specific Support Actions
Aimed at supporting the implementation of Priority 3, they include activities such as studies, benchmarks, foresight, elaboration of technology roadmaps and promotion and dissemination of knowledge and good practices.

Information on complete list of instruments for FP6

NMP and International Cooperation

Industrial research needs appropriate critical mass and benefits dramatically from an international dimension. International Cooperation represents an important dimension of FP6. This involves the opening of the seven thematic areas, among which NMP, to participation by researchers, teams and institutions from third countries.

All third countries can participate in RTD actions (in addition to the minimum number of participants from Member States and accession countries) if their participation is well justified and if their participation is well integrated into the work programme activities.

A budget of 285 million Euro is available across all thematic priorities for funding third country participation in RTD actions. The following third countries can therefore be funded: the "INCO" countries - developing countries; Mediterranean partner countries; Western Balkan countries, Russia and other newly independent states. Other third countries can be funded if provision is made in the work programme.

There are also a series of bi-lateral agreements for scientific and technological cooperation with Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, India, Russia, South Africa and USA, in which partners from these countries cooperate with EU countries with possible aid of their own national funding.

A specificity of NMP is the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems initiative with Norway, Switzerland, Canada, USA, Japan, Australia and Korea. This is a multi-lateral agreement allowing research collaboration between the EU and these other member regions.

More information on international cooperation in FP6
More information on international cooperation on Europa

NMP and SMEs

Because of its multi-sectoral industrial relevance, SMEs can play an important role under NMP. At least 15% of its budget will be allocated to supporting SMEs in NMP research projects. New opportunities are opening for SMEs, that can either participate in the specific activities to carried out by and for the SMEs within Integrated Projects and Networks of Excellence or can play a leading role in the Integrated Projects specifically dedicated for SMEs.

In addition, high tech SMEs are encouraged to undertake an active role in all types of instruments implemented under NMP and actions to promote start-up/spin-off activities are to be stimulated.

More information on SMEs in FP6
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