EUREKA Dutch Chair ends year with plea for improved funding for initiative

07/05/05

"There is a general consensus about the excellent role that EUREKA is playing in improving innovation in Europe, and in contributing to the achievement of the Lisbon Council objectives," says Roel Kramer, EUREKA High Level Group chairman 2004-5. "However, EUREKA can only play this role if and when there is adequate and effective funding available for it projects."

Record participation

Overall funding for EUREKA projects in 2004-5 showed an increase over previous years with some 1,500 million committed from public and private sources, the fourth best year in EUREKA's 20-year history. By the end of June 2005, 181 new innovative projects had been announced, with a budget of 318 million. Industrial participation was 70% and SME involvement approached 50%.

Over half the new innovative projects are in the areas of biotechnology, information and computer technologies (ICT), and materials. Particular highlights include E! 3421 HIVVAC, a major project to develop an HIV vaccine with a budget of 13.4 million, and E! 3399 ART.MED on early detection of cardiovascular disease with a budget of 11.9 million.

In addition, there are 57 newly running projects in the EUREKA Clusters (strategic initiatives), with a budget of 1,200 million of which 700 million is in the MEDEA+ microelectronics Cluster and 270 million in the ITEA embedded software Cluster. The Dutch Chair marked the start-up of several CELTIC telecommunications Cluster projects and the first projects in the EUROGIA energy Cluster. Three new Umbrellas were also endorsed: E! 3610 InnoFisk in aquaculture, E! 3603 ENIWEP in tribology and E! 3584 EConTec in e-content technologies.

Key successes

Key successes of the Chair include:

Improving complementarities with the EU research Framework Programme. The Dutch Chair has worked with European Commission to boost SME participation in European research by the use of Article 169 of the EU Treaty to encourage a joint national/EU programme aimed at R&D-performing SMEs. More than 20 EUREKA countries have already committed to this approach.

Establishing dialogue at political and industry level to improve the performance of EUREKA overall. Major activities included: the inter-Parliamentary Conference in the Dutch Parliament in The Hague in May 2005; and the EUREKA Industry Day in Schiphol in June 2005. In addition, an Advisory Committee consisting of various industrial representatives and an academic has been inaugurated.

Setting up permanent external evaluation of EUREKA projects by independent experts to strengthen the EUREKA quality label.

Boosting credibility

In addition, the Cluster approach to funding was reviewed and a new two-step procedure introduced to ensure that funding is available before projects are labelled. The same process is also being applied to Umbrellas. This is intended to boost further the credibility of such labels.

Other activities during the Dutch Chair included five international matchmaking events involving some 350 companies. Sectors included automotive, food diagnostics, hydrogen and fuel cells, offshore oil and gas, and white biotechnology.

The Netherlands hands over the EUREKA Chair to the Czech Republic on 1 July 2005. The incoming team is set to boost industry involvement, raise the political profile of the Initiative and reinforce member country commitment. Major events will include the EUREKA FORUM in October 2005 and the EUREKA Ministerial Conference in June 2006.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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