Brussels, 03 May 2005
The Commission has launched a new ERA-NET project, under the 'coordination of research activities' priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), designed to reinforce European collaboration in the field of materials science.
The ERA-NET project, known as MATERA, is made up of 15 national funding organisations in 13 European countries. It aims to encourage national and regional authorities to improve the dissemination in Europe of knowledge gained through materials research, and will also target the launch of joint activities in the field.
According to the project's coordinator, Sisko Sipilä from the Finnish National Technology Agency Tekes: 'The project enables for the first time a real cooperation between the European funding organisations on materials science and engineering. Even though the road to joint and coordinated activities will be rocky and challenging, the final results will be worth it. Together we can achieve more.'
Tekes describes material sciences as 'one of the most important areas of research and development in industrialised countries', given its contribution to the development of fields such energy, the environment, health and safety.
In recent years, the discipline has evolved beyond its foundations in metallurgy and metals to encompass more functional materials and polymers, while research in areas such as nanomaterials is expanding rapidly. It is precisely this rapid evolution, argue the participants of MATERA, that makes closer international collaboration necessary if Europe is to remain at the cutting edge of materials science.
The practical methods that the ERA-NET partners will use to achieve greater cooperation include benchmarking regional and national research programmes, identifying research areas where European collaboration would be particularly beneficial, and identifying joint policy making initiatives.
Once areas for joint collaboration have been agreed upon and common planning and evaluation methods for joint calls have been tested, the way will be free for project partners to launch joint activities.
And as Tekes points out, many of the activities carried out by the MATERA partners, including benchmarking and best practice activities, will be made available to actors operating outside the network, thus creating the maximum possible impact on Europe's materials science community. To access the project's website (from 13 May), please visit: http://www.matera.fi