Concrete progress on European dialogue marks end of Czech Chairmanship

During its 12-month tenure, and following in the footsteps of its French and Dutch predecessors, the Czech EUREKA Chairmanship has expressed its satisfaction at having further improved complementarities between EUREKA and elements of the EU Framework Programme (FP) for Research and Technological Development, namely through enhancing funding possibilities for EUREKA project participants. This has been achieved by exploiting Articles 169 and 171 of the European Treaty, enabling EUREKA involvement in the Eurostars Programme and the proposed Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs).

"Having a EUREKA label has a strong and very positive impact for innovating small and medium enterprises (SMEs) seeking to raise private funds to support their R&D," says Miroslav Janeček, Chairman of the National Project Coordinators group.

"The Czech Chair is delighted to have been instrumental in further strengthening the value of the EUREKA label through the dialogue established with the European Commission on Eurostars and JTIs."

The EUREKA Forum -- reinforcing the commitment of members and industry

Strategies established in the Czech programme focused on boosting industry involvement, raising political awareness of EUREKA and reinforcing member commitment to increased project generation. The EUREKA Forum in October 2005 was oriented towards these main issues of the Czech Chair strategy.

The Forum's primary aim was to raise the political profile of the EUREKA Initiative and to reinforce the commitment of member countries in ensuring the stability and predictability of national public funding for innovative research. It was also an opportunity to look back at EUREKA's achievements over the last 20 years.

"As the first country from Central and Eastern Europe to hold the Chairmanship of the EUREKA Initiative, we were proud to have organised such a unique event. By examining the evolution of the Initiative over two decades, we are helping enable EUREKA to move forward with a clearer vision for supporting and developing European competitiveness and growth," said Petr Křenek, the EUREKA High Level Group Chairman.

Under the Czech Chairmanship, members succeeded in announcing 185 new individual projects with a total budget of 259 million euro. Some 50 Cluster projects were also started during the Chairmanship year, worth 1 billion euro and two new Clusters ITEA 2 and EURIPIDES, with an investment of 4.2 billion euro, were labeled.

Eurostars -- a new programme for research-performing SMEs

Eurostars is a new programme benefiting SMEs, which reinforces cooperation between EUREKA, the FP and national funding bodies. The objective of the programme is to synchronise financing of EUREKA projects through the coordination of national programmes and a financial contribution from the Commission.

"Eurostars is currently in preparation phase, but its target group of research-performing SMEs has already been decided," states Janeček. "These SMEs can, with the product of their research activities, make a significant contribution to the European economy and jobs."

Ministerial Conference welcomes new support for industrial innovation

At the XXII EUREKA Ministerial Conference in Prague on 9 June, chaired by Czech Minister Petra Buzková, ministers noted EUREKA and the Czech Chair's continued efforts towards the 2002 European Council Barcelona objectives, notably in encouraging increased private investment in R&D.

Ministers at the conference encouraged EUREKA member countries and the European Commission to continue the development of Joint Technology Initiatives in the Information Communication Technology area, specifically nanotechnology and embedded software, involving the EUREKA Clusters MEDEA+ and ITEA2.

EUREKA Clusters -- in which there is now 42% SME participation -- provide a favorable environment for the development of generic technologies, common European standards and for the consolidation of product interoperability.

The JTIs will help enable cohesion between national and EU support mechanisms, in line with the Strategic Research Agenda. This closer association aims to synchronise Clusters and JTI project calls, and ultimately to increase the total volume of industrial R&D projects through combined private, national and EU financing (public-private partnerships – PPPs).

New strategic initiatives

ITEA and ITEA2 will continue to reinforce Europe's position on embedded software, piloted by several major European companies. Even more ambitious than ITEA, this new Cluster will mobilise a total of 20,000 people years over its eight-year term -- an investment of over 3 billion euro.

EURIPIDES has a term of seven years and a total budget of 1.2 billion euro. This ICT Cluster, which is focusing on 'smart systems', was formed from the merger of PIDEA+ and EURIMUS II.

The Ministerial Conference also announced the launch of new thematic networks, or Umbrellas, EULASNET II, LOGCHAIN+, EUREKABUILD and EUREKATOURISM.

Two new EUREKA members

The Ministerial Conference welcomed the new members of EUREKA, Malta and the Ukraine and encouraged both countries to participate actively in the Network.

Lynx and Lillehammer Awards -- the winning formula

For the fourth time, the EUREKA Lillehammer Award has been shared by two projects, both of which have developed technologies with outstanding environmental benefits.

E! 2497 EUROENVIRON BIOMAC devised a vastly improved method of bacterial wastewater treatment capable of degrading the most toxic and difficult pollutants. E! 2625 EUROENVIRON ECDVAT's new electrochemical dyeing process allows re-use of materials, and a substantial reduction in chemicals used and in waste discharged.

The Croatian SME EcoEngineering won the EUREKA Lynx Award for outstanding technological and commercial achievement. EcoEngineering is the first Croatian company to win the Lynx Award and also the first company to win a EUREKA award for both the company and the projects, as it participated in the EUROENVIRON BIOMAC project.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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