Ken Munro, the European Commission's head of representation in Scotland, says Edinburgh University has long been renowned as a European centre of excellence.
"That reputation has been enhanced in recent years by its outstanding success in collaborating with other European centres within the framework of the European Union's research programmes." Edinburgh has seen its EC research funding leap from Pounds 1.4 million in 1989/90 to Pounds 3.6 million in 1993/94, rising from 5 per cent of its research income to 7.6 per cent.
"We are a university of international scope, and have a policy of being a research-led university," says vice principal John Laver.
Edinburgh has been particularly successful in attracting companies and organisations who may have been deterred by the labyrinthine process of applying to the EC for project funds.
Its industrial liaison office, UnivEd Technologies, has a contracts manager, Derek Waddell, who is responsible for negotiating all the university's EC research contracts and can guide external bodies through the complexities. Scottish crofters and Spanish foresters are getting high-tech help for land management through a Pounds 250,000 project coordinated by Edinburgh.
The STEM (Sustainable Telematics for Environmental Management) project brings together academics in Scotland, the Netherlands and Germany with a leading environmental information systems company based in the Highlands, and Software AG Espana in Madrid, one of Europe's largest database companies.
The project aims to develop easy-to-use software which will help combine data from a range of sources, including the Internet, to give land managers accurate, up-to-date information about environmental conditions, and allow them to look at the long-term effect of the decisions they make. Edinburgh is also the leader of a three-year, Pounds 2.5 million project which could lead to the establishment of a worldwide telemedicine network.
Developments in information technology are increasing the possiblity of specialist healthcare being given outside hospital. Recipients include expectant mothers who have prenatal monitoring and scans at home, or health clinic staff having access to a foreign holidaymaker's full medical history before embarking on emergency surgery. One of the project partners is British Airways, which will investigate how a passenger falling ill during a flight could be more accurately assessed by an expert on the ground.