"Research 2002" conference opens in Brussels: EU science & technology programme in the starting blocks

November 11, 2002

Brussels, 8 novembre 2002

On Monday, November 11, in Brussels European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt will open the biggest conference on EU research ever to be held in Europe. Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen will also participate. The three-day event (11-13 November) will attract more than 8,000 participants and 200 speakers, including a line-up of 20 ministers, 3 Nobel laureates and scores of business leaders. It will mark the launch of the new EU Research Framework Programme (FP6 2003-2006), with the first calls for proposals to be published shortly. With a budget of €17.5 billion, FP6 is one of the biggest research programmes in the world. It will support projects in selected strategic areas and foster the creation of the European Research Area, a true internal market for knowledge and science.

"In a knowledge-based economy, only science and technology can produce real added value. They are Europe's real growth engines, the key to making our continent the most dynamic economic powerhouse in the world," said Commissioner Busquin. "The impressive attendance at this conference clearly shows EU researchers, entrepreneurs and policy-makers are ready to work with the Commission towards that goal. The research framework programme is an important part of this process. Through its improved targets, streamlined funding procedures and new schemes, such as integrated projects and networks of excellence, it will help achieve critical mass in research at European level. The next step will be for EU Member States to better co-ordinate their research policies, and for all parties to increase their efforts in the research area."

Meet European research at its best

The conference will not only present FP6, but it will also unveil state-of-the-art technology and cutting-edge research projects. Furthermore, leading European scientists and top business executives will have the opportunity to network. Matchmaking is key in fostering lasting contacts and opportunities for co-operation. European research is about pooling excellence and helping resources. This is the spirit of the European Research Area.

The event will bring together 8,000 participants from 61 countries. Nearly 15% of them will come from Candidate Countries. These countries will have the same rights as EU Member States in FP6 one year ahead of enlargement. A total of 142 research projects and 65 research organisations will be on show and the conference will include over 300 journalists. 81 scientific events will also be organised by the participants themselves. As part of the extensive media programme, the event will hold major press conferences, sector-specific media briefings, and offer many more informal press-points and interview opportunities. A fully equipped newsroom will be available for reporters throughout the event.

Fostering competitiveness and quality of life in Europe

Specialised sessions and workshops will elaborate on FP6 priorities such as life sciences, genomics and biotechnology, information society technology, nanotechnologies and new materials, aeronautics and space, food quality and safety, sustainable development, clean energy and transport and governance in a knowledge-based society. Other issues to be addressed will include human resources and mobility, patenting and intellectual property rights, the role of European regions, research infrastructures, SMEs and the likely impact of enlargement.

Participants will also discuss how to get involved in FP6 projects. They will debate the relationship between research and innovation. This will be an opportunity to look into international scientific co-operation, and examine the role of EU research on the world stage.

Media briefings will include:

  • Fast track to the future: solutions for safer and cleaner cars

  • Clearly competitive: cleaner processes, smarter products for sustainable business

  • Smaller, smarter and more flexible: nanotechs and multi-functional materials

  • How genomics will change our life

  • Air transport 2020: the Strategic Research Agenda for European aeronautics

  • Researchers first: enhancing mobility and career development opportunities in European research

  • Providing safer food for European citizens

  • Today one child in four has allergies what happens tomorrow?

  • Combating anti-biotic resistance: new vaccines against tuberculosis and AIDS

  • Predicting rainfall and managing rivers

  • Energy from the sun

  • New frontiers for the EU space industry: the future for Europe in space

  • Protecting our seas from oil spills

  • The future of forensic science: technologies for safety and security

  • Giant information technology infrastructures
Commissioners Busquin and Liikanen will also hold press conferences.

Business and scientific organisations join in

UNICE (Union of Industrial and Employers' Federations in Europe) will also organise a joint workshop with the Commission, the European Investment Bank (BEI), and the European Round-Table of Industrialists (ERT). Participants will explore ways to respond to the March 2002 Barcelona European Council's call to raise research spending to 3% of EU gross domestic product. Europe currently lags at 1,9%.

Another joint workshop will involve the Commission and EIROforum, an association of European scientific organisations. In fact, following the signing of the EIROforum Charter the organisation will officially be launched during the "Research 2002" conference. This session will focus on co-operation between the Commission and EIROforum, as well as on the role of EIROforum and its member organisations within the European Research Area.

EIROforum members include: CERN European Organisation for Nuclear Research (particle physics); EFDA European Fusion Development Agreement; EMBL European Molecular Biology Laboratory; ESA European Space Agency; ESO European Southern Observatory (astronomy and astrophysics); ESRF European Synchrotron Radiation Facility; and ILL Institut Laue-Langevin (neutron source).

More information

Conference venue: Brussels Exhibition Centre, Halls 7, 10, 11 and 12, Place de Belgique / Belgïeplein, 1020 Brussels

The media programme is available on:


For further information please visit:


DN: IP/02/1643 Date: 08/11/2002

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