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Research & Technology in the EU

Latest news about research and innovation policy in the European Union.

UEAPME requests more focus on innovation for SMEs
At the Clean Sky SME Day, coinciding with the European Competitiveness Council discussion on the future Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020, Gunilla Almgren, President of the European SME organisation UEAPME, put forward her main concerns about the ongoing negotiations between the European Parliament, Commission and Council.

SESAME - major research facility in the Middle East
The European Commission and CERN have today agreed to support the construction of SESAME, one of the most ambitious research facilities in the Middle East. SESAME is a so-called synchrotron light source, functioning in effect like a giant microscope. It will allow researchers from the region to investigate the properties of advanced materials, biological processes and cultural artefacts. SESAME is a unique joint venture based in Jordan that brings together scientists from its members Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey. Alongside its scientific aims, the project aims to promote peace in the region through scientific cooperation.

New European Industrial Strategy for Electronics
The European Commission today launches a campaign for coordinated public investments in micro- and nano-electronics (such as semiconductors and computer chips), designed to expand Europe's advanced manufacturing base.

European Month of the Brain
At the start of its 'European Month of the Brain' initiative, the European Commission has earmarked some EUR 150 million of funding for 20 new international brain research projects. It will bring the total EU investment in brain research since 2007 to over €1.9 billion. The 'European Month of the Brain' (#brainmonth) will highlight European research and innovation in the area of neuroscience, cognition and related areas through over 50 events across Europe this May. The initiative aims to showcase the latest achievements in the field, but also to urge a more decisive effort to combat brain diseases. It also aims at highlighting how studying the brain can revolutionise computing. The initiative comes as the profile of brain research has been raised recently with ambitious new projects in the EU (FET Flagship Human Brain Project) and the US (BRAIN project).

Modernisation of the European Trade Mark System
The European Commission has presented a package of initiatives to make trade mark registration systems all over the European Union cheaper, quicker, more reliable and predictable. The proposed reform would improve conditions for businesses to innovate and to benefit from more effective trade mark protection against counterfeits, including fake goods in transit through the EU's territory.

Lawsuit filed against EU authorisation of genetically engineered soybeans
Environmental organisations and scientists jointly bring the case to the European Court of Justice

Ban on animal testing
The Cosmetics Directive provides the regulatory framework for the phasing out of animal testing for cosmetics purposes. It establishes a prohibition to test finished cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients on animals (testing ban), and a prohibition to market in the European Union finished cosmetic products and ingredients included in cosmetic products which were tested on animals for cosmetics purposes (marketing ban). The same provisions are contained in the Cosmetics Regulation, which replaces the Cosmetics Directive as of 11 July 2013. The testing ban on finished cosmetic products applies since 11 September 2004; the testing ban on ingredients or combination of ingredients applies since 11 March 2009. The marketing ban applies since 11 March 2009 for all human health effects with the exception of repeated-dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics. For these specific health effects the marketing ban applies since 11 March 2013, irrespective of the availability of alternative non-animal tests.

Full EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics
11 March 2013 is the last deadline to phase out animal testing for cosmetic products in Europe enters into force. As of today, cosmetics tested on animals cannot be marketed any more in the EU. A Communication adopted by the European Commission today confirms the its commitment to respect the deadline set by Council and Parliament in 2003 and outlines how it intends to further support research and innovation in this area while promoting animal welfare world-wide.

Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs
Commission President José Manuel Barroso has called on Europe's digital businesses, governments, training and education sectors to join a Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs to address up to 900 000 job vacancies expected to exist in Europe in Information and Communication technologies (ICT) by 2015. Despite the current levels of unemployment, the number of digital jobs is growing by more than 100,000 per year. Yet the number of fresh ICT graduates and skilled ICT workers is not keeping up.

Space surveillance and tracking proposal
The European Commission has proposed measures to keep Europe's space industry competitive and to set up a European satellite collision avoidance system. While the EU is seen as a strong player in the global market for commercial launchers and telecommunication satellites and services, it faces increasing competition from emerging industrial actors in countries such as China and India - competition posing a challenge to the further development of the EU's industry. To address this issue, the Commission is proposing what it calls a new industrial policy for the European space sector, with a number of targets: to increase industry skill levels, to make finance and investment more readily available, to ensure the EU's independence in space and also to reshape the EU's legislative framework to make it a driver for industry - for example with legislation to promote the production and dissemination of data from satellites for commercial purposes. These initiatives will be complemented by a surveillance and tracking system to protect satellites from collisions in space. There are around 16,000 objects orbiting the Earth larger than 10 cm, a collision with any of whom would destroy a satellite. The proposed support programme would allow EU Member States that monitor satellites and space debris to pool their capacities and establish, for the first time, a European monitoring system.

EU health research on rare diseases
In the European Union, a disease is considered rare when it affects not more than 1 person in 2 000. This low prevalence is the common feature shared by all rare diseases, which altogether affect all biological systems. This nevertheless means that between 6 000 and 8 000 different rare diseases affect or will affect an estimated 29 million people in the European Union. The focus of rare diseases research in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7; 2007-2013) is on Europe-wide studies of natural history, pathophysiology and on the development of preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.

New research on rare diseases
The European Commission has, on Rare Disease Day 2013, announced EUR 144 million of new funding for 26 research projects on rare diseases. The projects will help improve the lives of some of the 30 million Europeans suffering from a rare disease. The selected projects bring together over 300 participants from 29 countries in Europe and beyond, including teams from leading academic institutions, SMEs and patients' groups. The goal is to pool resources and work beyond borders, to get a better understanding of rare diseases and find adequate treatments.

Digital Agenda Review - new digital priorities for 2013-2014
The European Commission has adopted seven new priorities for the digital economy and society. The digital economy is growing at seven times the rate of the rest of the economy, but the Commission says this potential is currently held back by a patchy pan-European policy framework. Today's priorities follow a comprehensive policy review and place new emphasis on the most transformative elements of the original 2010 Digital Agenda for Europe.

GMES/Copernicus - European Earth Observation Programme
Copernicus is the new name of the European Commission’s Earth Observation Programme, previously known as GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security). The new name was announced today by Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani during the Competitiveness Council. In a world facing an increased risk of natural and other disasters Copernicus aims to monitor the state of the environment on land, at sea and in the atmosphere and also to improve citizens' security. At the same time, Copernicus is a driver for economic growth and employment, with the potential to create up to 85 000 new jobs over the period 2015-2030, according to a recent study.

EU patent: SMEs welcome unitary system, urge Italy and Spain to join
UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers' organisation, warmly welcomed the votes at the Competitiveness Council yesterday (Monday) and at the European Parliament today (Tuesday) paving the way to a unitary patent system in the EU.

Single European Patent
EU inventors will soon be able to get a unitary patent at last. After over 30 years of talks, the European Parliament put its stamp to a new regime which will cut the cost of an EU patent by up to 80%, making it more competitive vis-à-vis the US and Japan. In the compromise deal with the Council endorsed by Parliament on 11 December 2012, MEPs cut costs for small firms and tailored the regime better to their needs.

EU cloud computing board begins work
The Steering Board of the new European Cloud Partnership (ECP) met for the first time in Brussels on 19 November, kicking-off a process where public authorities and industry work together to help building the EU Digital Single Market for cloud computing pursuant to the European Cloud Computing Strategy. Specifically, the ECP aims at leveraging the public sector's buying power to shape the growing and maturing market for cloud computing services. Chaired by Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, the board brings together tech Chief Executive Officers and government representatives with responsibility for IT procurement. The board will deliver strategic advice to Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes.

Opposition filed against patent on chimpanzees
Patent violates ethical boundaries of European patent law

Checklist for EU innovation and research funding
In order to determine which programme or funding source is the most relevant to support your idea, Cordis has identified 6 key questions that will guide you to the relevant funding opportunities: Am I eligible for a given programme or funding source? Is my type of research, innovation or enterprise development activity eligible? What about my timeframe? What type of financial support can I obtain? Who else is involved in the project? Can I apply for funding in my location?

Marie Curie Prize 2012
The first winners of the European Commission's new Marie Curie Prize for outstanding achievement in research were announced on 5 November at a ceremony in Nicosia, Cyprus. The three winners are Dr Gkikas Magiorkinis from Greece, in the 'Promising Research Talent' category, Dr Claire Belcher from the United Kingdom, for 'Communicating Science', and Dr Sarit Sivan from Israel, for 'Innovation and Entrepreneurship'. Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, presented each scientist with a trophy at the ceremony. This is taking place in the context of a conference focused on the future of the Marie Curie Actions and Horizon 2020, the Commission's proposed €80 billion programme for investment in research and innovation. Under the proposal, over €5.75 billion would be allocated to the Marie Curie Actions in 2014-2020. The scheme has supported the training, mobility and skills development of more than 65 000 researchers since its launch in 1996.

European Patent Office issues patents on chimpanzees
In 2012 the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted three patents on genetically engineered chimpanzees as recent research carried out by No Patents On Life shows.

EC measures to tackle biopiracy and facilitate nature-based research
Researchers and companies in the EU received a boost today with a new proposal that should provide reliable access to genetic resources from outside the Union. The proposal – a draft Regulation that would implement the 'Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-sharing' – is designed to protect the rights of countries and of indigenous and local communities that allow their genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge to be used, while also giving researchers in Europe improved, reliable access to quality samples of genetic resources at low cost with high legal certainty.

EU nanotechnology plan: tiny focus on consumer protection
Everyday products from clothes to children’s toys contain nanomaterials. Regrettably, the European Commission today disregarded calls from the European Parliament, consumer groups and environmental NGOs to force nanomaterial producers to be transparent about the substances they use and improve pre-market testing.

Safe use of nanomaterials: a case by case approach
Nanotechnology is delivering major advances today and also has the potential to allow “game changing” technological breakthroughs and rekindle economic growth. In recognition of this fact, the European Commission on 3 October adopted a Communication on the Second Regulatory Review on Nanomaterials, which also includes the Commission’s plans to improve EU law to ensure the safe use of nanomaterials. The Communication underlines nanomaterials' diverse nature and types, ranging from everyday materials that have been used safely for decades (e.g., in tyres or as anticoagulants in food) to highly sophisticated industrial materials and tumour therapies. There is an increasing body of information on the hazard properties of nanomaterials, which are difficult to generalize and justify specific risk assessments. Therefore, rather than putting all nanomaterials in one basket, a case-by-case approach to risk assessment should be applied, using strategies based on indications of potential risks, either in terms of exposure or hazard.

Cloud computing: new strategy to drive European business and government productivity
The European Commission's new strategy for "Unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe" outlines actions to deliver a net gain of 2.5 million new European jobs, and an annual boost of EUR 160 billion to EU GDP (around 1%), by 2020. The strategy is designed to speed up and increase the use of cloud computing across the economy. 'Cloud computing' refers to the storage of data (such as text files, pictures and video) and software on remote computers, which users access over the internet on the device of their choice. This is faster, cheaper, more flexible and potentially more secure than on-site IT solutions. Many popular services such as Facebook, Spotify and web-based email use cloud computing technologies but the real economic benefits come through widespread use of cloud solutions by businesses and the public sector.