European Commission launches proposals for first Joint Technology Initiatives
The European Commission is now on the road to creating the first ever Europe-wide public-private partnerships to boost research and development, having adopted proposals for initiatives in two strategic industrial sectors. The Commission presented two Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), worth approximately €5 billion, on embedded computing systems, to be known as ARTEMIS (Advanced Research and Technology for Embedded Intelligence and Systems), and on innovative medicines (Innovative Medicines Initiative). The two JTIs will pool private sector investment with national and European public funding to create a single European-wide research programme that is driven by the needs of industry, and focused on clear joint technological and economic objectives. 'Europe needs a new approach to research in promising areas for our competitiveness and well-being,' said EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik. 'The proposals today show that the European Commission is committed to thinking differently where that is what Europe needs.' The novel JTIs will move away from the traditional approach of case-by-case public funding of projects, and head towards large scale research programmes dedicated to meeting the common strategic research targets of specific industrial sectors. The European Commission hopes that the new bottom-up approach will stimulate European investment in research and development and build critical mass by uniting currently fragmented efforts. ARTEMIS, will address the invisible technology (embedded systems) found in many machines today, ranging from cars, planes and mobile phones, energy networks and factories to washing machines and televisions. Its research budget will total €2.7 billion over seven years, with around 60% of the budget expected to come from industry, €410 million from the Commission and €800 million from EU Member States. The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) will aim to support the development of new knowledge, tools and methods so that better and safer medicines can be made available on the market more quickly. This programme will have €2 billion to invest over seven years. The Community contribution of ¿1 billion will go entirely to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and universities, for research that can be used by the pharmaceutical sector. In return, major companies will match this amount and involve these same SMEs and universities. The IMI will therefore contribute to increasing private investment in R&D, improving knowledge transfer between universities and business, and involving small business in European research. Although there are substantial levels of public funding involved in JTIs, the Commission insists that the new research initiatives are designed to be as administratively fast, flexible and light as possible, with overheads being as low as between 1.5 and 4% of the total budget. Also, the initiatives will be implemented through Joint Undertakings that will be established by Council Regulations on the basis of Article 171 of the EC Treaty. Mr Potocnik said: 'Each JTI will be managed by a Joint Undertaking, funded by both industry and the public sector (European and/or national). They will be established under Community law, a first for an organisation of this type. We have designed them to have the necessary flexibility to function as private/public partnerships while guaranteeing a sound implementation of Community funds.' The Commission's proposals for each JTI will be presented to the Competitiveness Council on 21 and 22 May, with the hope that the regulations will be adopted during the Portuguese Presidency, in time for both JTIs to start work early in 2008. The next potential candidates for JTIs are in the fields of nano-electronics, clean skies (greening of aeronautics), hydrogen and fuel cells, and global monitoring for environment and security. Proposals are expected to follow soon. 'I don't think I can emphasise enough that what we are proposing today is truly ground-breaking. Seeing this through will require real commitment from all those involved: industry, Commission, Member States, European Parliament. It may not always be easy. But it is too important not to try, and not to give it everything we've got,' the Commissioner concluded.