21 January 2003 ·
Source: EUREKA News · Download PDF
Greater co-operation across ERA and higher levels of ICT research funding are key to meeting Lisbon's visionary goals
© 2003 EUREKA
The Lisbon summit set out a strategy to make the EU the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. If we are to achieve this, there must be better co-operation across the European Research Area (ERA) and a higher level of R&D investment in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) says Paul Mehring, chairman of the ITEA board and former head of research for DaimlerChrysler.
The concept of the ERA, as championed by Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, has brought the fragmentation that hampers European R&D to attention at the highest level. Governments, organisations and individuals have been mobilised to overcome this stumbling block as a prerequisite to achieving the Lisbon objective.
Critical issue number one, as confirmed by a high-level panel debating the challenges facing ERA at ITEA's recent symposium, is a need for better co-operation between the Commission's Framework Programme, inter-governmental programmes such as EUREKA's highly successful strategic clusters, ITEA and MEDEA+, and the national programmes. The Sixth Framework Programme and its new instruments, Integrated Projects in particular, offer a unique opportunity for more effective co-operation.
As a practical first step forward, ITEA and MEDEA+ have jointly proposed the 'Strategic Domains Concept', which focuses on providing mechanisms for co-operation across key areas for European competitiveness - the digital home, mobile and automotive sectors, for example. The concept provides for the critical mass needed for these domains during their 'digital transition'. Mechanisms for co-operation would include:
- developing a shared vision backed by proper roadmapping (e.g. the 'ITEA Roadmap on Software Intensive Systems')
- monitoring and reviewing progress and technological co-operation between the projects within each strategic domain, possibly to be extended later to the open co-ordination of calls for project proposals, with a view to maximising efficiency and synergy while maintaining the complementarity of the programmes.
Critical issue number two is the significant gap in ICT R&D investment levels in the EU relative to the US and Japan. To overcome this the EU and all member states must:
- increase the level of public R&D investment in ICT as the most critical enabler and growth factor (despite the current economic downturn)
- foster more private capital investment in R&D through R&D tax credits and more favourable state-aid rules, and by adopting the type of proactive procurement policies as successfully practised by the US
- play a more active role both in and on behalf of ERA as providers of most of the public investment.
The ITEA Roadmap on Software Intensive Systems can be downloaded from this website.
ITEA (Information Technology for European Advancement), Europe's premier co-operative R&D programme for software intensive systems, recently marked its third high-level event with the ITEA Symposium in Amsterdam. It has also labelled the projects from its latest and most successful call, bringing the total number of projects to 51 involving 20 countries, and pushing the programme beyond the 7,500 person-years level.
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