Europe's aerospace and defence industries spent some 12.6 billion euro on research in 2005, and have their sights firmly set on creating a Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) held its annual conference on 17 May. The European aerospace, security and defence industries are large and growing. In 2005, they had a turnover of 113 billion euro, and employed 614,000 people - a rise of 13,000 people. 'R&D [research and development] continues to be a key driver in our industry and in 2005 was 12.6 billion euro,' said Tom Enders, ASD President. 'However, to stay competitive and develop new products, R&T [research and technology] needs to be increased. The strengthening of our industry's competitiveness continues to be the key issue for the industry, and ASD welcomes the EU authorities' support and encourages them to commit significant budgets to the sector also in the future,' he said. The members of ASD have declared themselves very interested in Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), new instruments to be introduced under the forthcoming Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). JTIs will be advanced forms of the current Technology Platforms. At a recent conference, EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik described JTIs as able to 'implement a specific part or the entirety of a European Technology Platform'. JTIs' main objectives are: to ensure coherent implementation of European research efforts; to concentrate efforts on key projects to help boost Europe's competitiveness; and guide investment in research and development towards operational and marketable solutions. The European Commission outlined in a working document six areas in which a JTI could be appropriate, using criteria such as strategic importance, evidence of EU added value, long-term industry commitment, and the adequacy or otherwise of existing Community instruments. 'Aeronautics and air transport' is one of these areas. Heeding the working document, ASD organised a workshop on 16 May, where industry representatives discussed creating a JTI with the name 'Clean Sky'. 'It is for the leaders of the industries concerned to build a case to demonstrate that the strategic research agendas that have been developed meet the detailed criteria for a Joint Technology Initiative and that their implementation will lead to concrete deliverables that will impact positively on Europe's industrial competitiveness,' reads the Commission document. If approved, the Clean Sky JTI would 'assess, design, build and test many technology validation vehicles that will give the industry the confidence to launch greener, more innovative products much sooner', according to ASD Secretary General François Gayet. Close to 100 representatives from industry, research centres and universities participated in the workshop. The Clean Sky JTI group currently comprises a core team of nine companies: AgustaWestland; Airbus; Alenia Aeronautica; Dassault Aviation; Eurocopter; Liebherr Aerospace; Rolls Royce; Safran and Thales.