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Fifth EC Conference on RTD in industrial and materials technologies

The Fifth EC Conference on "RTD in industrial technologies" took place on 6-9 December 1994 in Brussels. The aim of the conference was to provide an overview of the results obtained in the specific programmes of the Third Framework Programme. The programmes concerned were Indu...

The Fifth EC Conference on "RTD in industrial technologies" took place on 6-9 December 1994 in Brussels. The aim of the conference was to provide an overview of the results obtained in the specific programmes of the Third Framework Programme. The programmes concerned were Industrial and Materials Technologies (BRITE/EURAM II and CRAFT), and Standards, Measurements and Testing (BCR V), as well as the STEEL programme. The conference also aimed to provide potential partners with the facilities to identify research priorities and to prepare future European research actions. In this context, the recently adopted specific programme on industrial and materials technologies (BRITE/EURAM III) under the Fourth Framework Programme (1994-1998), and the second phase of the CRAFT programme for SMEs, were presented. More than 1,400 participants were able to view, by means of 25 stands and 220 posters, the results of over 960 research projects funded under the BRITE/EURAM II, BCR V and STEEL programmes. A number of technical presentations took place on the following: - Materials research; - Cooperative research (CRAFT); - Design and manufacturing technologies; - Measurements and testing; - Steel research; - Evaluation and exploitation of RTD results. Thematic sessions linked with the new programmes were also held: - Research for the industry of the future; - Interprogramme coordination for RTD on transport; - Prenormative research; - Industrial research for product innovation; - Stimulation of R&D for and by SMEs (CRAFT II); - Networks to satisfy coordination needs. A Proposers' Forum enabled participants either to take note of consortia in search of potential partners in a specific field or to submit an expression of interest to define the profile of the partners necessary for the formation of a consortium. Participants were also able to discuss their proposals with Commission Scientific Officers. During a speech delivered at the conference, Prof. Antonio Ruberti, Commissioner for Science, Research and Education, recalled the four main lines of action for the industrial and materials technologies programme of the Fourth Framework Programme: - Research on new and improved production technologies; - Research on materials and technologies for product innovation; - Research on technologies for transport means; - Research on standards, measurements and testing. He stressed the need to increase cooperation between industries, universities and research centres. Financial resources, although significant, would nevertheless be insufficient to have a real impact unless there was: - More concentration on strategic themes with large multisectoral impacts; - More integration enabling all research participants to generate significant synergy between themselves; - More coordination in order to increase the efficiency of the various specific programmes. The first two objective are being realized and the important role of a continuous dialogue between the Commission and industry in this context has to be highlighted. Coordination is the principal mechanism enabling the efficiency of European RTD to be increased, but it also requires new constraints and conditions on management, which today could be too rigid. The Commission believes that the time has come to review this fundamental aspect of Community research policy, already included with the Maastricht Treaty (Article 130H). A communication of the Commission concerning the coordination of RTD policies was examined by the Council on 1 December 1994. The aim is to progressively improve coordination by intensifying cooperation during the different steps of definition and implementation of RTD actions. The proposed approach, which is flexible and diversified, is looking for solutions at all levels: - Determination of RTD policies; - Execution of research actions; - International cooperation. As far as the coordination of research activities is concerned, initiatives are intended which: - Improve interaction with the programme committees; - Identify opportunities during project selection (priority should be given to actions aimed at improving coordination); - Reinforce effective cooperation between other organizations or agencies involved with European RTD, such as ESA or EUREKA; - Encourage a continuous dialogue between the Commission and industry which should also permit a better coordination between specific programmes. This should diminish the difficulties that industry experiences with the generic and horizontal approach of European programmes. Experiences are already being realized, in particular within the transport sector where two new schemes of coordination have been drawn up respectively between the Commission and the aeronautic and automotive industries. Through dialogue with industry, but also with all other organizations concerned, the Community institutions have been able to identify the research needs, to define the implementation modalities and to decide on financial resources, within a very short time. The procedure of launching calls for proposals on 15 December 1994 will allow European industry to better exploit all these opportunities without losing the consistency of an overall approach. In order to sustain research on industrial technologies, about ECU 2,000 million has been allocated to the period 1995-1998. If all participants - industries, universities and research centres - are really able to cooperate, Prof. Ruberti declared that this would show that Europe is ready to face the challenge that the globalization of markets is creating.