Brussels, 07 Jul 2006
Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding has welcomed the launch of a European Technology Platform on smart systems integration, saying that European industry must do more to ensure that it keeps its position as world leader in advanced technologies.
The European Technology Platform on Smart Systems Integration (EPoSS) was launched in Brussels on 5 July. It brings together European private and public stakeholders working in the field with the aim of coordinating research into smart systems in relation to automotives, aerospace, telecommunication, medical technologies, logistics, and underlying technologies.
'I very much welcome this initiative and in particular the involvement of industry, which will help us to better align EU research in this field with industry's needs and to ensure that R&D [research and development] will result in increased competitiveness in Europe,' said Commissioner Reding.
Smart Systems Integration (SSI) is an emerging area with applications in many industrial sectors. Systems comprise components which are able to obtain information from the environment, process it electronically, communicate signals and data. For example, systems that detect information from environmental sensors, electronically communicate it and 'close the loop' by taking appropriate action.
A particular feature of the technology is its interdisciplinarity. Systems combining sensing, processing and actuating functions are increasingly complex, involving a variety of disciplines and principles from physics, chemistry, engineering and biology. The systems may also integrate mechanical, electrical and biological functions in order to create new features like uninterrupted access to information, security and ease of use.
'Fierce international competition requires rapid product change and a shorter time to market. Therefore, a broad range of materials and a large variety of technologies have to be developed and integrated. We believe that the fast integration of technologies into new products is a key to competitiveness,' noted Ms Reding.
A sector which will benefit greatly from the use of SSI is health. 'Smart Systems are the drivers for the expected revolutionary changes of health care, moving from hospital-based care to personalised and home-based care,' said the Commissioner. She gave the example of a portable molecular detection tool for diagnosis of diseases such as cancer, which will soon be available on the market. This biosensor may have applications in sectors as diverse as environmental protection, chemical analysis and food safety, she surmised.
SSI will also play an important role in the areas of the intelligent car and independent living, which, the Commissioner noted, have been identified as key information and communication technology (ICT) areas in the EU's i2010 initiative. 'The automotive industry is a pillar of the European economy. The sector is facing environmental and road safety challenges and Smart Systems Integration can contribute to improving vehicle performance and safety while decreasing negative effects on the environment,' said Ms Reding. On the topic of independent living, the Commissioner said: 'Smart Integrated Systems will - we hope - provide cost-effective solutions and applications for the ageing population and personalised healthcare.'
While European countries maintain a strong competitive position in the area of SSI, particularly in the area of microsystems and related advanced technologies, Ms Reding underlined the need to better exploit and develop this leading position in the market. 'Europe must now act together and all relevant actors from research organisations to industry should collaborate in order to focus our research investments on strategic sectors where European industries have a lead role.
'We need a better coordination between public and private research. The research investments in Smart Systems Integration, especially from the private sector, must be increased. We need a better performance in terms of innovation and market oriented applications and we also need to reduce the gap between research and production,' argued the Commissioner.
This is where EPoSS comes in. Commissioner Reding congratulated EPoSS for having already succeeded in bringing together the most important actors in the area. However, this is only the beginning, she said. She concluded by calling on EPoSS to ensure that its Strategic Research Agenda is ambitious enough to overcome all the challenges ahead.