Brussels, 11 Feb 2003
French laboratories have a significant role to play in helping to develop the European Research Area (ERA), said Claudie Haigneré, French Minister for Research and New Technologies, as she announced a new plan of action, which earmarks 50 million euro for nanotechnology research activities.
The overall aim of the national nanotechnology programme is 'to optimise the work of French laboratories best qualified in this area and to encourage them to work in a network in order to strengthen France's position and the European Research Area (ERA),' claimed Ms Haigneré.
The plan of action is in direct response to a recent parliamentary report that noted a low level of investment in nanotechnology research and development in France and Europe compared with the US and Japan. Since 1999, the US has, through their national nanotechnology initiative, invested more than 648 million euro this area of research.
However, Ms Haigneré noted that fresh impetus has been given to nanotechnology research within the European Commission's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), where1.3 million euro has been allocated to 'nanotechnologies and nanosciences, knowledge-based multifunctional materials, new production processes and devices' (NMP) as well as further funding within the Information Society technologies (IST) thematic priority.
The French action plan is expected to be complimentary to the European framework programme. France will earmark a total of 12 million euro to set up a research programme that focuses entirely on nanotechnologies. Funds will be set aside for training, and part of the funding will be used to help create networks of excellence and prepare for integrated projects, two of the new funding instruments for the EU's Sixth Framework Programme.
In France, some 30 million euro will be allocated to developing four existing technology centres for research as well as creating eight specific centres, which are expected to further strengthen France's poles of excellence in mircoelectronics.
In relation to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups, eight million euro will be invested to create a 'micro- nano-technology network.