Brussels, 01 Sep 2004
Creating research poles of excellence at European level is a necessity if France and Europe want to play a significant role in the world economy, says Philippe Camus, CEO of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space company (EADS).
In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Mr Camus warned that the future of European countries requires raising levels of skills and training, and that strong action by governments is therefore needed to boost the alliance between universities and research institutes.
'Our American and Japanese industrial competitors can depend upon an important university and scientific base. India has realised the necessary efforts in training to become a giant in the software and computer fields. China has big ambitions in the aeronautical and space domains,' said Mr Camus, pointing out that the cumulated sum of research financed by Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan exceeds that of the research financed by the enlarged EU.
In a global and increasingly knowledge-based economy, countries can no longer do it all explained Mr Camus. 'It is therefore indispensable to create university research poles of excellence at the French, European level and even world level,' he added.
'What is needed,' Mr Camus told Le Figaro, is to regroup the skills of universities, grandes écoles [colleges], and industry from the same geographical and cultural community.'
According to Mr Camus, this method works well, as demonstrated by Toulouse, in France, which has become a major intellectual centre of world value in the aeronautics field, and Grenoble in the microelectronics sphere. 'It is necessary to repeat those two examples,' said Mr Camus.
He emphasised the need for a strong political will associated with public financing to achieve this, pointing to the US example of strong collaboration between the Pentagon and NASA.
'If we do not do anything, scientific skills will leave Europe and will move to zones other than Europe. And firms will go to where they find the necessary resources,' Mr Camus concluded.