The great challenge

Research and innovation: the 27th "Framework programme"

Europe (the EU and its Member States) plan on the sector of Research and Innovation. Moreover, the economic crisis has made clear that the ability to find new, intelligent, "sustainable" and complex solutions is bound to gain increasing importance. This is applies also to many other fields which range from environmental soundness to communications, to security. The European Union promotes research through the so-called "Framework Programme". The one currently under way (the seventh) covers the period 2007/2013 with a 50.5 billion euro budget. As many as 6.4 billion will be allocated in 2011 – to projects due to be identified in the forthcoming months. It is the highest annual funding ever allocated to "applied science". Knowledge, business and enterprises. In reality, the funding available is scarce. In fact one of the five key-targets of the Europe 2020 strategy for Employment and Growth, adopted past June by the European Council binds the EU "to improve conditions for research and development, notably with the goal to bring the levels of public and private investment in this field to 3%". There remains the fact that over 6 billion for the forthcoming year constitute a remarkable amount. Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn explained: "The package, covers a vast range of scientific disciplines, public policy areas and commercial sectors". This funding will advance "scientific boundaries, increase European competitiveness and help solve societal challenges such as climate change, energy and food security, health and an ageing population". Notwithstanding the emphases, the objective fact is that around 16,000 participants from research organizations, universities and industry, will receive funding.The new bids for 2011. Funding will be granted through a selection of the proposals submitted to the Commission (the official webpage of the research, http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/research, provides the necessary data). The call for bids was officially published July 20. "This package is an economic stimulus expected to create more than 165.000 jobs. It is also a long-term investment in a smarter, sustainable and more inclusive Europe. It is a key element within the EU’s Europe 2020 Strategy and in particular the Innovation Union Flagship, which will be launched in autumn 2010", the Commissioner said. According to Geoghegan-Quinn "Investment in research and innovation is the only smart and lasting way out of crisis". Funding varies according to the areas and fields of application. Around 600 million is earmarked for health-related project, 1.2 billion to Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and 205 million are reserved for environmental protection. SMEs, will receive close to €800 million to be employed in activities such as nanotechnology development. Mobility grants for 7, 000 highly qualified researchers will be provided through “Marie Curie Actions”, worth €772 million.Achievements. Research is part and parcel of the EU. The founding treaties of 1957 already envisaged the establishment, along with the Economic Community (EEC) also of the Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM), from which depended the Joint Research Centre, one of today’s major research organisms of the EU. Research is also carried out by ESA, the European Space Agency. EU27 provide funding for various project in the areas of science and technology. Over the past days two achievements obtained with the current funding policy were brought up. The first relates to improved management for crisis response. Workpad – the project funded with 1.85 billion euro – developed software applications that allow emergency teams responding to natural disasters to coordinate and communicate with each other quickly and efficiently, helping to save more lives. Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said: "”When an earthquake, forest fire or flood hits, we need to deploy all our available resources to save as many lives as possible and to provide urgent rescue services. EU research funds have helped to develop a great ICT tool that makes emergency response even better and faster". Kroes presented the results of the "Arrival" project that that schedules trains more efficiently (more passengers, more freight and goods on more trains). 2.6 million euro were earmarked for this project.

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