Brussels, 04 Mar 2005
The first ever European Research and Innovation Exhibition will be held in Paris, France, from 3 to 5 June. The brainchild of an entrepreneur and a scientist, the exhibition will bring together researchers, public research organisations, financial partners and investment funds, councils, publishing companies, multinationals and start-ups.
'We have two main objectives with this exhibition,' explained Jean Audouze, French astrophysicist and chairman of the exhibition, at a press conference in Brussels on 3 March. 'We want to provide the opportunity for key players in Europe to meet, share ideas and foster innovation, and we want to display to the public the most recent discoveries and the job offers that exist in that domain.'
At a time when there is a growing and alarming lack of interest among young people in embarking upon a scientific career, the European Commission, the French senate and Research Ministry, as well as the Italian, German and Hungarian governments, were quick to see the potential of this type of event.
As Michel Claessens, Acting Head of Unit from the Science Society Directorate in DG Research, explained, new figures show that public interest in research has declined dramatically since 1992. For example, he said, the interest of the French public in research has declined by eight per cent while in Italy it has declined by 22 per cent.
'This is serious,' said Mr Claessens. 'At a time when Europe is considering doubling its research spending, we cannot expect the public to support this increase if interest and even trust in the subject is declining.'
According to Mr Claessens, an increase in funding for EU research should be accompanied by increasing efforts to communicate 'because the scientific community is not famous for its communication culture.' 'Few events aim to improve dialogue between the public and scientists,' he said. 'We believe this event is a unique event worth promoting and supporting.'
The programme of the exhibition is intended to be encyclopaedic and panoramic, covering all research areas. Devised by Professor Audouze with the help of a scientific committee made up of some 80 personalities, it includes an exhibition space divided into six thematic areas (EU research; research development, technopoles and points of excellence; universities; financing of research; applied research, multinational; and pharmaceutical companies and high -tech start-ups), lectures, workshops and round tables, as well as scientific animations for the public.
The lectures will discuss the new discoveries and innovations that have taken place in the EU over the last two years. Topics include: space exploration from Mars to Titian; a journey inside the Earth; earthquakes and tsunami; what's new in using nanotechnologies; medication of the future; ITER; hydrogen and energy cells; the future of drinkable water; biodiversity; research in mathematics; from patent to start ups and innovation, for whom? For what?
The round tables, two of which will be organised by DG Research, will address the following topics: EU research programmes; diffusion of science in Europe; civil research versus military research; International Property Rights (IPR); sustainable development and European and national policies in research and innovation.
Finally, various scientific animations with be organised by the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the Palais de la Découverte and 'La Recherche' magazine.
'The aim is to make researchers from all types of horizons come to the exhibition and make them meet with the interested public and hope that the young will be present too,' Professor Audouze told CORDIS News.
'As this is the first time something like this is organised, we are aware that we will not get everybody. However, we hope to show that there is a need for research and development and that we all need one another. We also need to put the message across that research is not a luxury, it is a necessary precondition for our survival,' added the professor.
Speaking to CORDIS News, François-Denis Poitrinal, the president of the exhibition, and a lawyer turned entrepreneur who has invested one million euro in this event, explained that in the long run, he hopes to transform this project into a 'scientific Davos', where only around 1000 people would be invited to discuss strategic issues.
With some 150 exhibitors already confirmed, the organisers are expecting some 25,000 visitors, including EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik and French Industry Minister, Patrick Devedjian, if his schedule allows.
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