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Specific research and technological development programme in the field of industrial and materials technologies, 1994-1998

This specific programme forms part of the First Activity under the Fourth Framework Programme and builds on the achievements of the BRITR/EURAM programme in the field of industrial and materials technologies under the Second and Third Framework Programmes.

Research activities concentrate on the technologies needed by European industry in relation to critical stages of production systems and the quality of products. They will also address the substantial R&D required to develop the technology for human-centred production systems in industrial enterprises, taking account of human factors, and based on clean technologies which are compatible with the environment and sustainable development.

RDT activities are conducted on the basis of multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral, cross-boarder cooperation, focusing on generic technologies which can be rapidly applied in the different Member States and to different industrial sectors. Collaboration between the research, design and manufacturing phases are reinforced, so that the challenges of research directed at the total life-cycle of products may be taken into account.

Efforts will be made to coordinate research projects around common industrial objectives, in order to facilitate the incorporation of technologies and the transfer of knowledge, and to encourage cooperation between suppliers, manufacturers and users, and between different industrial sectors. This will facilitate improved synergies between the RTD activities of the specific programme and the various other complementary Community programmes, in particular information technologies, telematics, energy, environment and transport.

Where appropriate, close coordination and cooperation with related initiatives at the European level, such as EUREKA and the European Space Agency (ESA), will be pursued with a view to the integration of techniques and exchanges of know-how. Joint seminars and an exchange of information between projects will be organized with EUREKA.

The activities carried out in the field of transport within the programme take account of the particular requirements of the various transport domains, notably the motor vehicle, aircraft, shipbuilding and railway sectors.

Research activities linked with steel production and process innovation may gradually be included in the programme's activities, in view of the critical state of the European steel industry and the expiration of the ECSC Treaty in the year 2002.

JRC research in the field of industrial and materials technologies is conducted in close coordination with the programme's activities. The JRC will focus on prenormative research which, save for special exceptions, will be undertaken within the framework of networks of European bodies with interests and capabilities in relevant fields of research, and in association with standards organizations, particularly the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).

JRC activities will include research into ceramics, metals and composite materials; surface modification and characterization technology; and, prenormative research leading to standards on material recyclability, including the development of a database on recyclable materials.
In the short term, to prioritize research for the adaptation of existing technologies, or for the development of new industrial technologies, which provide competitive leverage, particularly in sectors where the level of technology is lower; in the medium term, to focus on industries which are already developing innovative technologies and strategies allowing better use of human resources while endeavouring to reduce the adverse environmental impact of production; and, in the long term, to focus on new technologies for the production and design of products which allow new industries or markets to be created in a context of sustainable growth.
Three areas of activity:

- Production technologies for future industries:
Research covers new methods of process engineering, industrial organization, novel manufacturing techniques, new control systems and diagnostics, the miniaturisation of components, nanotechnologies in industrial systems and the integration of new technologies, notably those which use available information and communication technologies. (Particular attention is given to the development of technologies favouring social aspects, health and safety at work and ecological aspects).
. Incorporation of new technologies into production systems;
. Development of clean production technologies;
. Rational management of raw materials;
. Safety and reliability of production systems;
. Human and organizational factors within production systems;

- Materials and technologies for product innovation:
Research concentrates on new techniques for the design and development of materials and products, and new technologies for the recycling and reuse of industrial products at the end of their life-cycle. Particular attention is given to the processing of high-performance materials, molecular engineering, notably supramolecular chemistry for the development of products of the future.
. Materials engineering;
. New methodologies for product design and manufacture;
. Reliability and quality of materials and products;
. Technologies for recovering products at the end of their lifecycle;

- Technologies for transport means:
Development of new, faster, more reliable, comfortable and environmentally-friendly means of transport at competitive costs. Research covers the incorporation and application of new design, manufacturing, modelling, simulation and maintenance technologies, and new advanced materials and environmental technologies.
. Vehicle design and systems integration;
. Vehicle production;
. Technologies to improve vehicle efficiency;
. Environmental technologies;
. Technologies for vehicle safety;
. Technologies for vehicle operation.
The Commission is responsible for implementing the programme, assisted by a committee consisting of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission. The Commission will draw up an initial work programme, detailing the scientific and technological objectives of the action, the stages in the programme's implementation and the corresponding financial arrangements. This work programme may provide for participation in certain activities within the EUREKA framework. Calls for proposals for RTD projects are issued by the Commission on the basis of the work programme.

Participation in the programme is open to all legal entities regularly carrying out RTD in the Community or in countries with whom the Community has concluded specific agreements. To this end, the Commission is authorized to negotiate cooperation agreements with European third countries not covered by the EEA with a view to involving them in all or part of the programme. Provisions are also made for pursuing international cooperation within the framework of international organizations.

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) may participate in the indirect activities covered by the programme. It will also contribute, through its own programme of direct activities, to the realization of the RTD objectives set out in the specific programme.

The following three types of research are carried out:

- Industrial activities targeted on priority objectives of major strategic importance to the future of European industry taking into account user needs;

- Measures for technology stimulation, based on the CRAFT and Feasibility Awards experience, in order to encourage and facilitate the participation of SMEs, in particular those from the less advanced regions of the Community;

- Know-how development and dissemination activities based on generic technologies and coordinated through thematic networks.

The programme is mainly implemented through shared-cost activities, concerted actions, specific measures, and various preparatory, accompanying and support measures.

Community support for shared-cost activities, which include industrial RTD projects and research projects within thematic networks, does not exceed 50% of total costs. Concerted actions mainly consist of the coordination, notably through "concertation networks", of RTD projects already financed by public or private bodies. Provisions are also made to support specific measures, such as those aimed at establishing general instruments for research centres and, in particular, the preparation and operation of thematic networks. The Community's contribution towards the cost of thematic networks does not normally exceed ECU 20 000, in average per partner per year.

The programme budget is divided between the activities as follows: Technologies for future industries ECU 590 million; Materials and technologies for product innovation ECU 566 million; and, Technologies for transport means ECU 461 million (of which 50% is earmarked for the aeronautics sector). The budget allocated to the programme may increase before the end June of 1996, in accordance with the Decision establishing the Fourth Framework Programme.

These figures include an allocation of 5.08% for staff and administrative expenditure and an allocation of 3% for preparatory, accompanying and support measures, of which a figure of equivalent to 1% is included for the dissemination and utilization of results. 5% of the programme budget is earmarked for coordination activities, 15% for activities in favour of SMEs, and 10% for basic research of industrial relevance.

A sum of ECU 90 million, representing the difference between the amount deemed necessary for this programme and the amount foreseen in the Fourth RTD Framework Programme for industrial and materials technologies, is earmarked for the specific RTD programme to be carried out through direct action (JRC) and S&T support activities, in the context of a competitive approach.

The Commission will continuously review the implementation of the programme to ensure that its objectives, priorities and financial resources remain appropriate. On the basis of this review process it shall, where appropriate, submit proposals to adapt or supplement the programme. In addition, regular assessments of the activities covered by the specific programme will be conducted by independent experts who, upon completion of the programme, will carry out a final evaluation of the results achieved compared to the initial objectives. A report of this final evaluation will be communicated to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee.