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FP6: a 'true European research area'


Confirmation that the European scientific world is alive and kicking arrived this week when the Commission announced that it had received over 12,000 'expressions of interest' (EoIs) in response to a call for ideas on promising topics for research.

The results of a call for EoIs in the €17,5 billion 6th EU Research Framework Programme were announced this week by the Commission. "This clearly demonstrates the commitment of the EU research community to fully participating in European-level research wherever the opportunity arises", said EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin.

The Flair-Flow project in the EU, that aims to disseminate results from EU sponsored food research programmes, falls under the umbrella of the EU framework programme.

The Commission said this week that out of some 12,000 Eol's received, just over 1,000 were linked to food and 2000 to genomics.

Taken as a whole, about two-thirds of the overall submitters focused on large-scale Integrated Projects, with the remainder preferring Networks of Excellence. The submitting organisations (46 per cent) were mainly academic institutions followed by research organisations (32 per cent). While industry made up only 14 per cent of submitters, there are indications, reports the Commission, that industry representatives preferred to hold back their ideas until the calls later in the year.

According to the Commission, FP6 will help 'to create a true European Research Area, an internal market for knowledge and science, and to achieve the March 2000 Lisbon European Council goal: to make Europe the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010.'

But, it claims, to ensure the framework programme adds real value at EU level and is far-reaching, scarce resources scattered over a series of small projects have to be streamlined and better focused. For this reason, FP6 will concentrate on a limited number of priority themes that are strategically important for Europe. These range from biotechnology to aeronautics, from nanotechnology to energy systems, from health to road transport and from mobility of researchers to infrastructures.

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