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Research & Technology in the EU

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

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.

Enhancing and focusing EU international cooperation in research and innovation: A strategic approach
The European Commission has set out a new strategy for developing international cooperation in research and innovation. The strategy proposes to further focus cooperation on EU strategic priorities while maintaining the tradition of openness to third country participation in EU research.

Galileo Satellite Navigation Agency now based in Prague
The European GNSS Agency (GSA) inaugurated its new premises in Prague on 6 September. Previously headquartered provisionally in Brussels, the GSA moved its seat to Prague over this summer, as had been agreed by the EU Heads of State and Government on 10 December 2010.

Promoting the shared use of radio spectrum resources in the internal market
In its Communication on "Promoting the shared use of radio spectrum resources in the internal market", published on 3 September, the European Commission pushes and supports EU Member States to move to an enhanced innovation-friendly internal market framework for the shared use of spectrum. Meeting the growing spectrum needs resulting from the exponential growth in wireless data traffic and the increasing importance of wireless connectivity in the economy, is limited by the absence of vacant spectrum. However, says the Commission, the radio spectrum is a unique resource that can be re-used more efficiently with advances in technologies. This makes additional spectrum resources available and lowers the spectrum access hurdles for new users. To cope with the demand and to attract investments into new technologies, the EU needs a supportive regulatory framework that enables legally binding spectrum sharing contracts between users to encourage wireless innovation in the internal market.

Marine Knowledge: digital seabed map of European waters
The oceans and seas that surround Europe offer new opportunities for growth and jobs to meet the Europe 2020 goals. To best tap this potential, there is a need to know more about what is happening under the sea. The European Commission is proposing to create a digital seabed map of European waters by 2020 by collecting all existing data into one coherent database accessible to everyone. In a Green Paper on "Marine Knowledge" adopted today the Commission launches a consultation as to how this could be achieved. It poses a number of questions such as "how can ongoing efforts in Member States be incorporated into a common EU effort?", "how can new cheaper observation technologies be developed?" and "how can the private sector contribute?"

Marine knowledge 2020
Marine Knowledge 2020 brings together marine data from different sources with the aim of: Helping industry, public authorities and researchers find the data and make more effective use of them to develop new products and services. Improving our understanding of how the seas behave.

The 2012 EU SURVEY on R&D Investment Business Trends
The report contains the main findings of the seventh survey on R&D investment business trends based on 187 responses of mainly large companies from the 1000 EU-based companies in the 2011 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard. These 187 companies are responsible for R&D investment worth almost €56 billion, constituting around 40% of the total R&D investment of the 1000 EU Scoreboard companies.

Central and Eastern Europe Beyond Transition: Convergence and Divergence in Europe
The focus of the Forward Look project is on Central and Eastern Europe ‘beyond transition’: the objective being to define the extent to which social science research agendas need to address issues that are specific to this region, and the extent to which pan-European research agendas need to pay more attention to the specific dynamics of change in this region. The last 25 years have witnessed some of the most profound political, social and economic changes in Europe’s history. The fall of communism at the end of the 1980s not only reshaped relationships within the continent against a background of rapidly increasing globalisation, but also provided fascinating insights into the potential for, and limitations of, the large-scale reshaping of society. The Forward Look ‘Central and Eastern Europe Beyond Transition: Convergence and Divergence in Europe’ aimed both to identify the developments in CEE which would, could or should become hot research topics in the study of CEE as a part of European society and as such be promoted and endorsed by national and European grant institutions; and to outline ways in which foresight on CEE can contribute to the development of the social sciences in general and input important topics into transnational research.

European Research Area - guide
The European Commission has today set out concrete steps Member States should take to achieve the European Research Area (ERA), a Single Market for research and innovation in Europe. The goal is to enable researchers, research institutions and businesses to better move, compete and co-operate across borders. This will strengthen Member States' research bases, increase their competitiveness and allow them to work together more effectively to tackle major societal challenges, such as climate change, food and energy security and public health. To help achieve the European Research Area, the Commission has also today signed a Joint Statement and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with organisations representing key research organisations and research funding bodies. The proposals are a response to the deadline set by EU leaders to make the European Research Area a reality by 2014.

Communication from the Commission "Smart Cities and Communities - European Innovation Partnership" [COM(2012)4701]
On 10 July 2012, the European Commission launched the Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership. The partnership proposes to pool resources to support the demonstration of energy, transport and information and communication technologies (ICT) in urban areas. The energy, transport and ICT industries are invited to work together with cities to combine their technologies to address cities' needs. This will enable innovative, integrated and efficient technologies to roll out and enter the market more easily, while placing cities at the centre of innovation. The funding will be awarded through yearly calls for proposals: €365 million for 2013.

Innovation partnership for Smart Cities and Communities - guide
One of the greatest challenges facing the EU is how best to design and adapt cities into smart intelligent and sustainable environments. Almost three quarters of Europeans live in cities, consuming 70% of the EU's energy. Congestion costs Europe about 1% of its GDP every year; most of it is located in urban areas. Smart urban technologies can make a major contribution to tackling many urban challenges. By launching a Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership (SCC) the European Commission aims to boost the development of smart technologies in cities – by pooling research resources from energy, transport and ICT and concentrating them on a small number of demonstration projects which will be implemented in partnership with cities. For 2013 alone, € 365 million in EU funds have been earmarked for the demonstration of these types of urban technology solutions.

FP7 2013 work programme - guide
The European Commission has today announced the final and biggest ever set of calls for proposals for research under its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). In total, €8.1 billion will support projects and ideas that will boost Europe's competitiveness and tackle issues such as human health, protecting the environment and finding new solutions to growing challenges linked to urbanisation and managing waste. The funding – which is open to organisations and businesses in all EU Member States and partner countries - makes up the lion's share of the EU's proposed €10.8 billion research budget for 2013. This announcement comes just days after EU leaders emphasised the importance of research and innovation in the Compact for Growth and Jobs.

Key Enabling Technologies
A significant part of future goods and services are as yet unknown, but the main driving force behind their development will be Key Enabling Technologies (KETs), such as nanotechnology, micro- and nanoelectronics including semiconductors, advanced materials, biotechnology and photonics. Mastering these technologies means being at the forefront of managing the shift to a low carbon, knowledge-based economy. They play an important role in the R&D, innovation and cluster strategies of many industries and are regarded as crucial for ensuring the competitiveness of European industries in the knowledge economy. These technologies enable the development of new goods and services and the restructuring of industrial processes needed to modernise EU industry and make the transition to a knowledge-based and low carbon resource-efficient economy. Whilst the EU has very good research and development capacities in some key enabling technology areas, it has not been as successful at translating research results into commercialised manufactured goods and services. Key Enabling Technologies are of systemic relevance as they enable the development of new goods and services and the restructuring of industrial processes needed to modernise EU industry and secure the research, development and innovation base in Europe.

Key Enabling Technologies - guide
Europe is a global leader in the development of Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) and it has all that is necessary to remain in this position. The EU holds a strong competitive advantage: it is the only region to master all six KETs (micro-/nanoelectronics, nanotechnology, photonics, advanced materials, industrial biotechnology, advanced manufacturing technologies). Over the years, Europe's strong R&D base has championed all six KETs, maintaining a leading position with 32 % of the global patent applications between 1991 and 2008.1 However, despite these strengths, the EU is not capitalising on its knowledge base: the EU’s major weakness lies in translating its knowledge base into goods and services and EU patents are, more and more, exploited outside the EU. The European Commission tabled today 26 June 2012 its strategy to boost the industrial production of KETs-based products, e.g. innovative products and applications of the future. The strategy aims to keep pace with the EU’s main international competitors, restore growth in Europe and create jobs in industry, at the same time addressing today's burning societal challenges.

Key Enabling Technologies
A significant part of future goods and services are as yet unknown, but the main driving force behind their development will be Key Enabling Technologies (KETs), such as nanotechnology, micro- and nanoelectronics including semiconductors, advanced materials, biotechnology and photonics. Mastering these technologies means being at the forefront of managing the shift to a low carbon, knowledge-based economy. They play an important role in the R&D, innovation and cluster strategies of many industries and are regarded as crucial for ensuring the competitiveness of European industries in the knowledge economy.

"Science: it's a girl thing!" campaign
With the European Union needing up to one million additional researchers by 2020, the European Commission has launched a campaign to get more girls interested in science and encourage more women to choose research as a career. Women make up more than half the EU's student population and 45 per cent of all doctorates (PhDs), but they account for only one third of career researchers. Women PhD graduates are also still a minority in engineering and manufacturing. The three year campaign will first seek to get teenage girls interested in studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM subjects). The focus will then broaden to female students more generally, encouraging them to consider research careers.

Telecommunication Market and Regulatory Developments 2011
Greater data consumption and a shift to mobile technologies (such as smartphones) and mobile services (such as 3G internet, music streaming and webmail) are the most significant trends in the information & communications technologies (ICT) sector, which now accounts for 8 million jobs and 6% of EU GDP, according to the Annual Digital Agenda scoreboard.

Digital Agenda Scoreboard - need for structural economic reform across Europe and surplus of ICT jobs
Europe's citizens, businesses and innovator s are generating enough digital demand to put Europe into sustainable economic growth, but failure to supply enough fast internet, online content, research and relevant skills is undermining this potential. Greater data consumption and a shift to mobile technologies (such as smartphones) and mobile services (such as 3G internet, music streaming and webmail) are the most significant trends in the information & communications technologies (ICT) sector, which now accounts for 8 million jobs and 6% of EU GDP.

European Patent Office Annual Report 2011
2011 was a record year at the EPO. It received almost 250 000 patent filings, the highest number ever in its 34-year history, showing that European patents are in high demand across the globe, and that Europe remains attractive for innovative industries. In the European Patent Office annual report, you will find key trends and detailed statistics, a report on its strategies and activities, plus a video message from President Benoît Battistelli.

New EU Agency for managing large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice
A new agency for managing large-scale EU information systems was inaugurated on 22 March 2012 in Tallinn, Estonia, with the attendance of Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. Its main task will be to en­sure that the Visa Information (VIS) and EURODAC systems operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Agency is due to become fully operational as of December 2012.

Parliament and Council must bring "Horizon 2020" in line with SMEs' needs
UEAPME issues position paper; calls for 15% dedicated budget, single entry point; rejects attempts to dilute SME definition

Communication on "High-Performance Computing": Europe's place in a Global Race
High Performance Computing (HPC) is critical for industries that rely on precision and speed, such as automotive and aviation, and the health sector. Access to rapid simulations carried out by ever-improving super computers can be the difference between life and death; between new jobs and profits or bankruptcy.

Plan to make EU the world leader in High-Performance Computing - guide
The European Commission on 15 February set out a plan for the EU to reverse its relative decline in HPC use and capabilities. Under this plan the EU will double its investment in HPC (from EUR 630 million to EUR 1.2 billion) and become home to computers that can perform 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (i.e. 1018) operations per second ("exa-scale"), before 2020. Half of the investment would be for development and training and for new centres of excellence, creating thousands of jobs.