The "Structuring the European Research Area" specific programme will attack a number of key structural weaknesses that are manifested across all fields of European research and which are likely to have progressively more important effects on the EU's capacity to meet the aspirations of its citizens as its economies and societies become more knowledge-based.
By their nature and means of implementation, the activities carried out within this programme are applicable to all fields of research and technology. They have specific vocations, distinct from, and complementary to, the activities implemented within other parts of the Sixth Framework Programme - notably the priority thematic areas defined for EU research within the "Integrating and strengthening the European Research Area" programme.
Further information on the Sixth Framework Programme is available on the CORDIS FP6 Web service at the following address:
This programme will: enhance the propensity to turn research into commercially valuable innovations; promote the development of human resources and mobility of researchers; stimulate the development and upgrading of European research infrastructures and; develop constructive dialogue between research and citizens in general.
The programme's activities are based on 4 areas:
1. Research and innovation:
This specific programme aims to encourage a more innovation-friendly environment throughout the EU, and to stimulate technological innovation and the setting up of innovative technology businesses.
This theme attacks a number of key structural weaknesses that prevent the maximum economic and social benefits being drawn from the European research effort.
a) Networking the players and encouraging interaction between them: to inform, assist, mobilize and network the key stakeholders (such as citizens, managers, policy makers, investors) in the field of entrepreneurial innovation;
b) Encouraging regional innovation policies and transregional co-operation: to facilitate transfer of good practices and installation of research and innovation strategies and to consolidate a European platform for exchange of good practices in regional structures;
c) Experimenting with new tools and approaches: to test and validate new ways that can further promote and support innovation in Europe through the development of experimental tools, approaches and services;
d) Putting services in place and consolidating them: The aim is to assist the creation of a Europe-wide innovation system by operating a number of services counterbalancing national compartementalisation and thus contribute to a smooth flow of information, the spreading of knowledge and the diffusion of innovation through economy (CORDIS research and innovation information service, Innovation Relay Centres, etc.);
e) Stepping up economic and technological intelligence: In the knowledge-based economy, economic and technological intelligence is a vital component of competitive research and innovation strategies. Activities will concentrate on specific science and technology (S&T) research themes or industrial sectors;
f) Analysing and evaluating innovation in Community research projects: The aim is to observe and analyse the innovation-promoting activities that are included in the Community RTD framework programme projects. The aim is to identify the obstacles to innovation and thus to overcome them.
2. Human resources and mobility
The overall strategic objective of this specific programme is to provide broad support for the development of abundant and dynamic world-class human resources in the European research system. With a view to the successful creation of the European Research Area, this programme involves a coherent set of action largely based on the financing of structured mobility schemes for researchers. These are essentially geared to the development and transfer of research competencies, the consolidation and widening of researchers' career prospects, and the promotion of excellence in European research.
This activity also aims to attract the best and most promising researchers from third countries, promote the training of European researchers abroad and stimulate the return of European scientists established outside Europe.
Actions to be pursued:
Five main strands of actions will be implemented:
a) Host-driven actions: Marie Curie research training networks; Marie Curie host fellowships for early stage research training; Marie Curie host fellowships for the transfer of knowledge and; Marie Curie conferences and training courses;
b) Individual-driven actions: Marie Curie intra-European fellowships; Marie Curie outgoing international fellowships and; Marie Curie incoming international fellowships;
c) Excellence promotion and recognition: Marie Curie excellence grants; Marie Curie excellence awards and; Marie Curie Chairs.
d) Return and reintegration mechanisms: Marie Curie European reintegration grants (reintegration mechanism for researchers who have previously benefited from a Marie Curie action) and; Marie Curie international reintegration grants (reintegration mechanism for European researchers having left for a third country since more than five years);
e) Co-operation with member states and associated countries: Different initiatives under this heading aim to respond to the objective of reinforcing human resources in research in Europe and to stimulate a culture of transnational mobility within a European career structure among both European and non-European researchers and host organisations in member states or associated states,
3. Research infrastructure
The ability of Europe's research teams to remain at the forefront of all areas of science and technology depends on them being supported by state-of-the-art infrastructures. The objective of this activity is to promote the development of a fabric of research infrastructure of the highest quality in Europe and to promote their optimum use on a European scale.
Five support schemes will be implemented:
a) Integrating activities: to support the integrated provision of infrastructure-related services to the research community at the European level and to structure the fabric of European research by promoting coherent use and development of infrastructure;
b) Communication network development: to create a denser network between related initiatives in particular by establishing a high-capacity and high-speed communications network for all researchers in Europe (GEANT and specific high performance Grids and test-beds (GRIDs);
c) Transnational access: to sponsor new opportunities for research teams (and individual researchers) to obtain access to individual major research infrastructure appropriate for their work;
d) Design studies: to contribute, on a case-by-case basis, to feasibility studies and technical preparatory work for the new infrastructure which have a clear European dimension and interest;
e) Construction of new infrastructure: to optimise European infrastructure by providing limited support for the development of a restricted number of projects for new infrastructure in duly justified cases where such support could have a critical catalyzing effect in terms of European added value.
4. Science and Society
The actions are aimed at encouraging the development of harmonious relations between science and society and openness to innovation as a result of establishing new relationships and an informed dialogue between researchers, industrialists, policy makers and citizens. The programme will be implemented by means of networks, benchmarking, exchange of best practices, developing and promoting awareness of methodologies, studies and the bringing together of national efforts.
Within the European Research Area, the Science and Society issues have been grouped into the following priorities:
a) Bringing research closer to society:
- "Governance and scientific advice" aims to create conditions under which policy decisions in multi-level governance are more effective in meeting society's needs, and more soundly based on science.
b) Responsible research and application of science and technology:
- "Ethics" -activities aim to ensure that the rapidly advancing progress in science is in harmony with the diverse cultural backgrounds across the continent, as well as with the fundamental ethical principles applied in the European countries;
- Activities under the "Uncertainty, risk and implementing the precautionary principle" -heading are included in the area of "Governance and scientific advice".
c) Stepping up the science/society dialogue and addressing the role of women in science:
- "Scientific and technological culture, young people, science education and careers" aim to increase public awareness of scientific and technological advances and their societal impacts, to increase dialogue between citizens and the scientific community, to develop a wider understanding of scientific and innovation culture, to promote young people's interest in science, and to improve science education and the uptake of scientific careers;
- "Women and science" aims to boost gender equality in research, through stimulating the participation of women in science and technological development;
- "Horizontal actions" promote the 'embedding' of science and society issues across the Framework Programme and aim to mobilize European actors to develop and pursue strategic goals around the 'Science and society' -agenda.
The activities carried out within the "Structuring the European Research Area" specific programme are applicable to all fields of research and technology.
The Commission, assisted by a committee composed of representatives of the member states and chaired by a representative of the Commission, is responsible for the implementation of the "Structuring the European Research Area" specific programme.
The Commission draws up a work programme setting out in greater detail the objectives, scientific and technological priorities, and timetable for implementation. The work programme takes account of relevant research activities carried out by the member states, associated states and European and international organisations.
The Commission reports regularly on the overall progress of the implementation of the specific programme and arranges an independent assessment of the activities carried out in the different fields covered by the programme.
Participation of the candidate countries in this programme is encouraged. Specific activities will also be undertaken in support of participation of scientists and institutions from developing countries, Mediterranean countries including the Western Balkans as well as Russia and the Newly Independent States (NIS).
The "Structuring the European Research Area" programme will be implemented with the following instruments:
- Specific targeted innovation projects implemented in the area of 'Research and innovation': They are designed to test, validate and disseminate new innovation concepts and methods at the European level.
- Specific targeted research projects implemented in the area of 'Science and society': They will be sharply focused and will take either of the following two forms, or a combination of the two:
(a) a research and technological development project designed to gain new knowledge either to improve considerably or to develop new products, processes or services or to meet other needs of society and Community policies or;
(b) a demonstration project designed to prove the viability of new technologies offering potential economic advantage but which cannot be commercialised directly.
- Integrated infrastructure initiatives implemented in the area of 'Research infrastructure': They will combine in a single action several activities essential to reinforce and develop research infrastructures, in order to provide services at the European level.
- Actions to promote and develop human resources and mobility implemented in the area of 'Human resources and mobility': They will be targeted at training, development of expertise or transfer of knowledge.
- Co-ordination actions implemented in all the areas of the programme: They are intended to promote and support the co-ordinated initiatives of a range of research and innovation operators aiming at improved integration (conferences, meetings, studies, exchanges of personnel, the exchange and dissemination of good practices, setting up information systems etc.)
- Specific support actions implemented in all the areas of the programme: They will complement the implementation of the Framework Programme and may be used to help in preparations for future Community research and technological development policy activities including monitoring and assessment activities (conferences, seminars, studies and analyses, high level scientific awards and competitions, working groups and expert groups, operational support and dissemination, information and communication activities, or a combination of these).