EU looks to developing world as it mulls FP8

October 6, 2006

The European Commission has started considering the potential shape of the Eighth Framework Programme for research - which would start in 2014 - even as the final details of FP7 are still being thrashed out.

Brussels' directorate general for research commissioned a study that recommends that the next major European Union research programme look beyond the shores of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Notably, the Scope 2015 project has recommended that the EU devotes future resources to helping developing countries reform research policies, regulations and organisations.

This follows studies of the state of research in the Arab Middle East and North Africa; former USSR states, excluding Russia; Latin America, excluding Brazil; and sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa.

Project leader Michael Keenan, of Manchester University, said many countries were "saddled with institutes that embody an old kind of model of science: laboratories that were implanted there in the 1960s and 1970s that haven't been updated to take into account a contemporary understanding around innovation processes".

Other problems include underinvestment in technology and development; brain drains; little private research; minimal capacities for new technologies; and an inability to solve sustainability problems.

Rather than recommend that the EU funds collaborative research with such countries in certain subjects, the study suggests helping developing countries reform research systems.

Dr Keenan said that the EU should help developing countries to strengthen their research infrastructures. "Once this happens, industry and other actors will get behind it and research will flow," he predicted.

The Council of Ministers approved FP7 last week, although it will go back to the European Parliament for amendment.

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