Brussels, 25 Jun 2003
French industrialist Michel Vieillefosse will begin a three year term as head of the EUREKA Secretariat on 1 July, it was announced during the recent EUREKA's Inter-Parliamentary conference in Copenhagen.
However, as Mr Vieillefosse told CORDIS News, he is already actively participating in the activities of EUREKA, and has already drafted a strategic plan which he expects will be adopted during a meeting of EUREKA's high level group.
Mr Vieillefosse is hopeful that the proposed plan will become a 'shared vision' of what needs to be done by EUREKA over the next three years. 'There has been a lot of discussions about the role of EUREKA in European innovation, but these have been mainly theoretical, said Mr Vieillefosse. 'What I propose are a series of more practical guidelines.'
One of the main issues covered in the proposal is the idea of forging practical links with the EU. 'Today there is a scarcity in public funding, so we have to work in a proper manner with the Commission and avoid an overlapping between EUREKA and the framework programmes,' said Mr Vieillefosse, and he agreed that the Commission's proposal of setting up joint thematic groups would be an effective channel through which closer collaboration could be achieved. This type of action is also included in the proposed strategic plan, he added.
The second activity outlined in the plan is looking at methods to increase private financial participation in innovation activities, explained Mr Vieillefosse. 'The problem in Europe today is that when you go from public funding to private funding, there is a time where no-one is financing your project,' said Mr Vieillefosse. 'In order to bring an end to this financial 'no-man's land' we have to look carefully at what the US has done in terms of public/private partnership and adapt it to the European approach.'
To work towards this goal, discussions are already underway with financial institutions, like the European investment Bank (EIB) and business angels, said Mr Vieillefosse. Such collaboration is crucial, he said, as 'fulfilling the EU's target of investing three per cent of GDP in research and development (R&D) will never be done with public funding alone.'
Mr Vieillefosse's appointment has been in direct response to calls from EUREKA's stakeholders for greater involvement of industry in EUREKA's decision-making processes. An engineer by training, Mr Vieillefosse also has a strong interest in the development of technology and research programmes, having experience in several European programmes (ESA, Phare and Tacis), as well as American and Russian equivalents.
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