EU makes massive €780m investment in ICT research

28 Sep 2010

As part of its Digital Agenda to transform Europe’s social and economic fortunes, the European Commission has unviled one of the biggest grant funds ever made into ICT research. Some €780m will be invested under Framework Programme 7.

The Commission has promised to maintain a yearly increase of 20pc in the research budget for ICT until at least 2013.

Project proposals are invited from universities, businesses and public bodies across the EU who will have to form cross-border partnerships together to pitch for funding.

Today’s fund breaks down as follows:

·        €120m: networking, digital media and service infrastructure

·        €200m: telecoms, industrial automation, lighting technologies, medical/industrial

·        €200m: ICT for health and ageing care costs

·        €135m: ICT for energy efficiency in transport and buildings

Crucial for the future

“Increasing overall investment into ICT research is crucial for our future,” commission vice-president for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said.

“The EU’s support to our world-class researchers announced today must be accompanied by substantial additional investments by the beneficiaries themselves. This research will help Europe’s industry to strengthen its competitiveness.”

Today’s money is on top of funding announced earlier this year for research into low-carbon cars and buildings and for innovative internet applications for energy grids and traffic management.

The €780m call for proposals (ICT Call 7) is part of the biggest ever annual Work Programme under the EU’s 7th Framework Programme for Research. Almost €1.2bn has been budgeted for 2011.

Some €220m was made available already in July 2010 for public private partnerships focusing on ICT for smart cars, green buildings, sustainable factories and the future internet.

In this call, €120m will be available to fund research and technological developments in networking, digital media and service infrastructure for the future internet. This is crucial if Europe is to stay ahead of the challenges that its increasingly digital society will face in the next decade.

Future internet

Nearly €100m have already been earmarked for the ‘Future Internet’ Partnership to take advantage of the increasing demand for innovative internet applications that make infrastructures like health systems, energy grids or traffic management systems “smarter”.

To strengthen Europe’s position as a leading supplier of electronic systems and photonic components, more than €200m are available for research in this field. This supports the competitiveness of the automotive, telecoms, industrial automation, lighting technologies and medical industrial strongholds in Europe.

Their success depends on integrating innovative components and systems into products and services across all sectors. Advances in laser technology, for instance, are crucial to boost growth in optical communications and getting ultra-fast internet connections to all Europeans.

This latest call also foresees close to €200m for research in ICT for health and ageing. The European population aged 60 plus is increasing by about 2 million every year. ICTs are essential to creating sustainable solutions and to maximising market opportunities that help reduce related social and healthcare costs.

In addition, €135m is available for ICT research that improves energy efficiency in buildings, in transport and logistics. This complements the €220m made available in July 2010 for public private partnerships for an economy based on low-carbon cars, buildings and factories.

Universities, research centres, SMEs, large companies and other organisations in Europe and beyond are eligible to apply for project funding under ICT Call 7.  Proposals can be submitted until 18 January 2011, after which they will be evaluated by independent panels of experts for selection on the basis of their quality.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years