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Slovenia takes over EUREKA chairmanship

On 1 July, Slovenia will take over the reigns of EUREKA, the European network for market-led research, from the current chair Italy. Among its priorities will be further strengthening the network's position within the European Research Area (ERA); expanding the network towards...

On 1 July, Slovenia will take over the reigns of EUREKA, the European network for market-led research, from the current chair Italy. Among its priorities will be further strengthening the network's position within the European Research Area (ERA); expanding the network towards the Western Balkans; and providing better support to research-performing small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs). This is the first time that Slovenia has held the EUREKA chair, which comes at a very opportune moment. 'Our ambition is to combine the advantages of the EUREKA Chairmanship and the Slovenian Presidency of the EU (from January 2008) along with the cooperation with the EUREKA network and the European Commission, making a significant contribution to the European research policies,' says Ales Mihelic, who will head the Slovenian EUREKA chairmanship team. Probably the biggest event during the Slovenian chairmanship will be the launch of Eurostars, the first European funding and support programme to be specifically targeted at SMEs that dedicate 10% or more of their turnover to their research activities. This ambitious programme is aimed at stimulating SMEs to lead international collaborative research and innovation projects by easing access to support and funding. The European Commission has proposed that the scheme become an 'Article 169 initiative', which would benefit from Community support. EUREKA's role under the Slovenian chairmanship will also be to further contribute to the shaping of the ERA, particularly in the area of industrial research, where the network has a proven track record and a wide network of contacts. This was also a priority during Italy's tenure of the network, and according to outgoing chair, Fabio Pistella, in that time, the network took a leading role in converting the ERA 'from words into actions, especially in the area of support and funding for close-to-market research activity'. The network's involvement in discussions with the Commission on the proposed Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) is testament to the network's important role in European industrial research. ARTEMIS, one of the two first JTIs proposed, focusing on embedded computing systems, involves EUREKA Clusters ITEA 2 and MEDEA+. Slovenia also plans to expand the network's cooperation with representatives from industrial research in the Western Balkans. Already the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro are EUREKA members, and the hope is to further expand membership in the region. Other priorities listed by Slovenia include a new communications strategy to promote the results of EUREKA projects, as well as a new strategy on the future of the network.

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Slovenia