EC backs hi-tech research with a billion Euros

The European Commission (EC) is to invest €1bn into R&D in a bid to increase momentum in ICT research.

The EC recently announced R&D levels across Europe were stagnating, showing a growth of just 0.2 per cent in 2002 to 2003, and that figure was now approaching zero.

This is borne out by further figures for 2002 which reveals just how poor investment is compared with the US and Japan.

In that year, USA and Japan invested the equivalent of €350 and €400 respectively, while Europe barely managed a quarter of that, at €80. Similarly, information communications technologies simply aren’t given the same weight in Europe as its global competitors. In 2002, ICT research investment was just 18 per cent of all research investment. This compares poorly with the 34 and 35 per cent for the US and Japan.

Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said: ‘Europe continues to under-invest considerably into ICT research for lack of sufficient resources both at EU level and at national level. Today, half the ICT research projects proposed for EU funding have had to be turned down, despite meeting all the requisite quality criteria. If Europe wants to be part of the game of global competition for better ICT services, we need to step up our resources considerably.’

In accordance with that sentiment, the EC is plunging €1bn into making those projects a success.

The projects focus on existing areas of expertise in Europe, and include micro- and nano-electronics, mobile communications and broadband technology.

€162m of the EC investment will be dedicated to small and medium-sized enterprises, which account for 20 per cent of all participating organisations, and €70m will go to specific projects partnering research organisations from the new Member States and from the EU 15 in areas such as eGovernment, eHealth, eLearning or eBusiness.

The EC is making the investment in order to meet its strategy initiative: ‘i2010 – a European Information Society for growth and jobs’.

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