Commission presents results of Expressions of Interest in EU research framework programme

October 7, 2002

Brussels, 4 October 2002

The results of a call for expressions of interest (EoIs) in the €17,5 billion 6 th EU Research Framework Programme (FP6 2003-2006) were today announced by the Commission. The European scientific community and enterprises were invited on March 20 2002 to put forward ideas on the most promising topics for research. Some 12,000 Eol's were received in response to this invitation. They can be consulted through an on-line database. Most EoIs were addressed to the Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems priority (2822), followed by Information Society Technologies (2591) , Life Sciences, Genomics and Biotechnology for Health (1997), and by Nanotechnologies and Nanosciences, Knowledge-based Multifunctional Materials and New Production Processes and Devices (1670). EoIs involve several hundred thousand research groups representing more than 50 countries.

"This clearly demonstrates the commitment of the EU research community to fully participating in European-level research wherever the opportunity arises", said EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. "With the approval of FP Specific Programmes, by EU Research Ministers on September 30, we are now ready to go. The first calls for proposals will be published later this year, and we will launch the first concrete projects in 2003. Expressions of interest will provide us with a firm foundation for fine-tuning and better targeting FP6 implementation phase. They will also help to further identify initiatives to be funded as a priority."

Just over 80% of EoIs came from EU Member states. Of the rest, two thirds came from Candidate Countries. About two-thirds of the submitters focused on large-scale Integrated Projects, with the remainder preferring Networks of Excellence. The submitting organisations (46%) were mainly academic institutions followed by research organisations (32%). While industry made up only 14% of submitters, there are indications that industry representatives preferred to hold back their ideas until the calls later in the year.

An analysis of a sizeable sample of EoIs, indicates that the expected duration of both integrated projects and networks of excellence is 5 years, with an average required budget of between €17 and 18 million for both instruments.

Less and better focused priorities

FP6 will help to create a true European Research Area, an internal market for knowledge and science, and to achieve the March 2000 Lisbon European Council goal: to make Europe the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. But to ensure the framework programme adds real value at EU level and is far-reaching, scarce resources scattered over a series of small projects have to be streamlined and better focused. That is why FP6 concentrates on a limited number of priority themes that are strategically important for Europe. These range from biotechnology to aeronautics, from nanotechnology to energy systems, from health to road transport and from mobility of researchers to infrastructures.

Funding instruments

FP6 will give priority to two new funding instruments Networks of Excellence and Integrated Projects. Networks of excellence aim at strengthening excellence by tackling the fragmentation of European research. By harnessing expertise and engendering the lasting integration of the research capacities of their members, they will be able to provide European leadership and be a world force in their respective scientific and technological areas. Integrated projects will support objective-driven research in Europe, to produce with greater speed and efficiency new knowledge in defined scientific and technological areas. They will also obtain specific results that will have an impact on EU competitiveness and on major societal needs.

But FP6 will also make the most of existing funding instruments which have been upgraded and streamlined. These include "Specific targeted research projects", "Co-ordination actions" and "Specific support actions". Compared with Integrated Projects, the first tool will support research projects, technological development and demonstration activities on a smaller scale. The second instrument will foster the networking and co-ordination of research and innovation activities. "Specific support actions" are accompanying measures that will support the implementation of FP6.

Fresh ideas

The Commission invited Europe's research community to help in defining how to target new thematic priorities and funding instruments. Results reflect an interest and readiness on behalf of the researchers and industry to make the most of these new tools. But this major brainstorming exercise also underlines a realisation by the EU scientific and enterprise community of the need for a quality leap in European research, to foster the creation of the European Research Area. EoIs already foresee a variety of consortia with European partners, in full compliance with the new FP spirit. This will harness resources dispersed throughout Europe and establish a consistent research policy at EU level.

FP6 Expressions of interest are available on line at:

http://www.cordis.lu/fp6/eoi-instruments

The Expressions of Interest database can be found at

http://eoi.cordis.lu/search_form.cfm

Analysis of EoIs:

Expressions of Interest treated in response to the invitation published on 20 March 2002 with deadline of 7 June 2002 (Identifier EOI,FP6,2002)

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DN: IP/02/1429 Date: 04/10/2002

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