Brussels, 17 June 2002
Nanotechnology research can stimulate the exchange of knowledge and the development of international scientific networks, Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said at a press briefing at the 'Nanotechnology: a new industrial revolution?' conference in Grenoble, France on 14 June.
'Because of the efforts necessary, nanotechnology research extends beyond the usual geographic borders,' Commissioner Busquin explained. 'Today, it is at the centre of an unprecedented international cooperation, and is stimulating the learning process as much within Europe as between Europe, the United States, Asia and other regions.'
Mr Busquin said the characteristics of nanotechnology - the science of manipulating objects and creating materials on a cellular or atomic scale - demand a more structured and integrated research effort. He said this is a key aim of the European research area, which will be supported by the Sixth Framework programme for research (FP6).
Mr Busquin added that in order to avoid dispersal of research efforts, 'nano' research will be largely brought together under the FP6 priority 'Nanotechnology, multifunctional materials and new production processes and devices.' This thematic priority will have two aims, he explained - to upgrade basic knowledge in the area and to foster the emergence of new industrial sectors. Nanotechnology will also be explored, to a lesser extent, under the 'Genomics and biotechnology for health' and 'Information society technologies' priorities.
Two new instruments which will come into play under FP6 - integrated projects and networks of excellence - will help to build critical mass in key areas of research, such as nanotechnology, and encourage cooperation between industry and academia for the benefit of European science, according to Mr Busquin.