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Greece assumes EUREKA chairmanship at prize giving ceremony

A change of chairmanship, the inauguration of new members and the results of EUREKA's 'Oscars' prizes awaited ministers from the organisation's 32 member countries in Madrid at the end of June. EUREKA, the European network for market-oriented research and development, oversaw...

A change of chairmanship, the inauguration of new members and the results of EUREKA's 'Oscars' prizes awaited ministers from the organisation's 32 member countries in Madrid at the end of June. EUREKA, the European network for market-oriented research and development, oversaw 190 new projects with a cost of 493 million euro during the year under the Spanish EUREKA chairmanship. SMEs account for nearly half the participants in the new projects, collaborating with research institutes, universities and large companies, bringing total EUREKA expenditure to 2.2 billion euro. The two latest additions to the EUREKA network, which is designed to enable industry and research to collaborate in developing innovative technologies, are Estonia and Slovakia. In the year that Greece takes over the chair, there is unanimous approval for EUREKA collaborating in the EU Sixth Framework programme and support for the expansion of initiatives to encourage venture capital to take part in public/private funding partnerships. EUREKA's success was seen during an awards ceremony that saw the French company Coheris receiving EUREKA's first Lynx Award. The award was given to Coheris for a software package that manages customer relations. The company gained EUREKA funding in 1997 through the MAIGRET project and since then has grown from 50 to 430 employees. 'MAIGRET allowed us to find our feet, grow into a software publisher and turn ourselves into the major European player we now are,' said chief executive Jean-Pierre Creput. EUREKA's 2001 Lillehammer Award, presented for outstanding environmental benefits, went jointly to the AUTORES and EUROENVIRON SECONWET projects. These projects reduce the environmental dangers of waste water. The first project produced a robust and semi-automatic pollution monitoring system, AQUA/MCA. This is now in operation in more than 100 sites in southern Europe and even in Columbia. The second project designed an artificial or constructed wetland (CW) to filter waste water. Dirty water filters through a reed-bed of soil and sand, where resident micro-organisms and plant roots remove impurities. Pilot CWs in Slovenia and Austria treating sewage from small settlements have met international water-quality standards. CWs have also been used to treat the leachate from landfill sites, a serious groundwater pollutant in many countries. 'Our underlying aim is to promote acceptance of this technique worldwide. Any country with landfill sites, scattered communities or seasonal tourist centres can use CWs to improve the environment,' said Dr Tjasa Bulc.

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