Archive pour août 2008

EU Funding: Effect of cosmic rays on climate to be quantified

Vendredi 29 août 2008

The EU’s Seventh Framework Programme has granted EUR 2.3 million over the next three years to an experiment that examines the influence of cosmic radiation on the Earth’s climate

 

 
 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 New framework programme for research and technology aiming at better exploiting research capacities in Europe and transforming scientific results into new products, processes and services.
 Individual grants for training and career development of researchers

 

The collaboration, entitled ‘Cosmic rays leaving outdoor droplets - Initial Training Network’ (CLOUD-ITN), began this August and is coordinated by Germany’s Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main. It supports eight PhD and two postdoctoral positions at nine partner institutions across Europe; work will largely be carried out at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN).

The observed climate warming since 1900 is largely attributed to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that are generated by human activity. Changes in solar irradiance are assumed to contribute relatively little to climate change. However, the effects of changes in UV (ultra-violet) radiation or galactic cosmic rays have not yet been quantified. Experiments to be conducted at CERN, a facility that sits astride the Franco-Swiss border, will seek to quantify the interactions of cosmic rays, UV radiation, aerosols and clouds. This in turn should improve our understanding of a so-called ’solar indirect’ contribution to climate change.

Cloud formation is one of the largest uncertainties in the climate change equation. But how do clouds form? When highly energetic galactic cosmic rays (which are generated by supernovas) enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they pull electrons out of the gasses they encounter, leaving a trail of charged molecules (ions) in their wake. New aerosol particles can then form and grow around these ions; water droplets use these particles as ‘condensation nuclei’ to form a cloud.

The CLOUD collaboration has developed an aerosol chamber which, when exposed to an elementary particle beam, can simulate the effects of cosmic rays on aerosol and cloud formation. The first prototype was developed in 2006 and the new, improved chamber will be used to carry out experiments on ion-induced nucleation and ion-aerosol interaction. This will lead to an improved understanding of the mechanisms of cloud formation.

The cloud chamber is a stainless-steel construction which measures 3m by 3.7m and is filled with all of the components thought to make up a cloud (air, water vapour, trace amounts of gases). These are continuously analysed with myriad analysing instruments. One of the analysers is a chemical ion mass spectrometer that can measure sulphuric acid concentrations at less than 0.1 parts per trillion; CLOUD is one of only three groups in the world that operates such an instrument. Galactic cosmic rays are simulated by a Proton Synchrotron accelerator.

The current prototype (called Mk2) will be used to carry out a broad range of important physics experiments over the next few years, after which it will be replaced by a final CLOUD facility that incorporates performance improvements and a newly developed aerosol pressure chamber.

The CLOUD-ITN project provides funds for eight PhD candidates to carry out work and write their theses on this research. A comprehensive training programme for the PhD candidates and postdoctoral fellows has been set up, featuring annual summer schools and workshops on topics such as aerosol chemistry and physics, ion-induced aerosol nucleation and the influence of galactic cosmic rays on the climate in the past. The first summer school took place at Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station, Finland, this August.

All of the analysing instruments are provided by the partner institutes and supported by national funding agencies. Project participants include CERN, the Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland), the Universities of Helsinki (Finland), Leeds (UK), Reading (UK) and Vienna (Austria), the Institute for Tropospheric Research in Leipzig (Germany) and Ionicon Analytik in Innsbruck, Austria. The University of Lisbon in Portugal and the Institute for Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy in Sofia, Bulgaria have recently joined the collaboration. Russia’s Lebedev Physical Institute has also been awarded a research grant to support CLOUD activities by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) under the CERN-RFBR agreement on scientific cooperation.

The design manpower for the CLOUD Mk2 facility is provided by PSI, CERN and the University of Lisbon. The construction costs of the CLOUD Mk2 facility will be paid from a common fund shared among the partner institutes and by in-kind contributions.

 
  Source:
Cordis

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EU Funding: Educating for enterprise in Europe

Jeudi 28 août 2008

If the European Union is to meet the “growth and jobs” objectives of the Lisbon strategy, it must foster a more enterprise-friendly culture

 

 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for projects that promote entrepreneurship and innovation culture.
 Award aiming at raising awareness of enterprise activities and celebrate entrepreneurial success

The crucial role of education in promoting more entrepreneurial attitudes is now widely recognised and an ongoing EU project is looking in depth at how to foster greater entrepreneurial awareness in higher education curricula.

The ‘entrepreneurial gap’ between Europe and other countries, notably the USA, has been identified as a barrier to economic growth: Whilst in Europe only 45% of the population would like to be entrepreneurs, in the USA the equivalent figure is over 60%. This is largely due to cultural factors, and low awareness of the advantages of starting your own business. Teaching young people about entrepreneurship and equipping them with basic entrepreneurial skills, whatever their area of study, has been identified as a key way of increasing Europe’s enterprise potential.

The wider picture

The Entrepreneurship in Higher Education project was launched in 2006 with the objective of analysing the current state of play in Europe with regard to the teaching of entrepreneurship in higher education, particularly in non-business courses. It consists of two main parts: an expert group(1) report and a Europe-wide survey.

The Expert Group met six times in Brussels over a period of two years and its final report was published in April 2008. It is now being widely disseminated to ministries and educational institutes in all Member States.

The ‘Entrepreneurship in higher education, especially in non-business studies’ report provides a preliminary overview of the teaching of entrepreneurship in higher education institutes in Europe, with particular attention to entrepreneurship training in non-business studies. It attempts to identify obstacles to the provision of teaching in this area and highlight examples of good practice, while examining the potential role of public policy in improving the current situation.

Open for business

The experts’ report finds that the teaching of entrepreneurship is not yet sufficiently integrated in the curricula of higher education institutions and that the majority of entrepreneurship courses are offered as part of business and economic studies. Teaching of entrepreneurship is particularly weak in some of the new Member States. This is in part due to a lack of financial and human resources for this type of education, but also to a certain rigidity in institutional structures and educational curricula.

Teaching entrepreneurship requires an inter-disciplinary and action-oriented approach, including, for example, group and team techniques for creating new business ideas, the use of case studies and multi-disciplinary business planning workshops. At present, teaching staff have few incentives to get involved in this type of activity, and links with the business sector need to be cultivated more widely.

A range of solutions

In order for entrepreneurship education to be integrated more widely in non-business studies, action is required at several levels. For public policy, the experts suggest national task forces be set up to examine how best to integrate entrepreneurship into curricula from primary to advanced levels, as well as the adoption of legislation to support relations between private business and universities. It also proposes the development of an accreditation system and the establishment of awards for institutions which lead the way in this field.

At institutional level, they propose a range of initiatives aimed at fostering a more entrepreneurial culture within each institution, and creating incentives for the involvement of students, teaching staff and external organisations. There is also a role for the European Commission, which could support programmes for the training of entrepreneurship teachers and the creation of European networks and cross-border exchange initiatives.

The experts report moreover provides several examples of good practice and suggests a number of possible courses of action which would help to foster better integration of entrepreneurship studies in European education. The report will, however, be supplemented by a more in-depth survey, across all Member States, the results of which are due to be released in autumn 2008.

 
  Source:
Enterprise & Industry online magazine

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EU Funding: EU film support programme’s first global steps trigger interest

Mercredi 27 août 2008

Cooperation with the European film industry is in strong demand around the globe

 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Support programme for the European audiovisual sector

The results of the first call for projects of a new EU initiative, the MEDIA International Preparatory Action, show a lot of interest from audiovisual professionals around the world in working with Europe’s film and audiovisual sector. The EU will provide nearly €2 million of funding for 18 projects involving partners from Canada, Latin America, India, China, South Korea, Japan, Morocco, Bosnia, Turkey and Georgia. The projects include joint training of film professionals, reciprocal promotion of films and cooperation between cinema networks. This could set the stage for a broader EU film cooperation programme called MEDIA MUNDUS, coming in 2011.

Of 33 applications received in the first MEDIA International call for projects, the European Commission has selected 18 proposals to receive funding for continuous training of audiovisual professionals, the promotion and distribution of cinematographic works and the development of cinema networks. 11 projects deal with continuous training through partnerships with Latin America, India, Canada, Turkey, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia covering films, TV shows, animation, documentaries and videogames. For example, the Cartoon Connection project will organise a joint training on developing and financing international co-produced cartoons for professionals from the EU, Latin America and Canada. Primexchange is a workshop for authors and producers from India and Europe on financing and marketing audiovisual works, with special focus on digital technologies.

The six projects selected by the Commission for promotion of audiovisual works focus on boosting co-production, which can help companies access foreign funding and new markets. For example, the European Producers’ Club will organise co-production workshops in China and India and invite local producers to two major forums in Europe. The DOMLA project will organise a documentary month, releasing 12 European documentaries in Chile and vice versa distributing Latin-American documentaries in Europe. The Paris project is a co-production event for European, Japanese and South-Korean producers.

Finally, MEDIA International will support the first international network of cinemas, coordinated by Europa Cinemas, including 230 cinemas in Europe and 148 cinemas from the rest of the world (10 in Brazil, 7 in South Korea, 6 in Japan and Argentina).

The proposals accepted today are part of a Preparatory Action called MEDIA International, for which the European Parliament voted a budget of €2 million last December. It aims to explore ways of reinforcing cooperation between European and third country professionals from the audiovisual industry. MEDIA International will run for up to three years and is also designed to pave the way for a broader MEDIA MUNDUS programme.

In the context of a public online consultation on this future programme, a public hearing was held in Brussels on 25 June 2008. The French Presidency of the EU held the Cinema, Europe, World colloquium on 8 July to reinforce EU external audiovisual action. On the basis of these contributions, the Commission will decide before the end of 2008 on a proposal for a MEDIA MUNDUS programme.

Background:

The existing MEDIA 2007 programme will provide €755 million to Europe’s audiovisual industry from 2007-2013, helping professionals get training and develop, distribute and promote their works around Europe.

This May, four MEDIA-funded films won prestigious awards at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Palme d’Or (Entre Les Murs, France) and the Grand Prix du Jury (Gomorra, Italy). They were among 14 films screened at Cannes developed or distributed with the support of over €900 000 from MEDIA. MEDIA-supported films had already triumphed at the Academy Awards, with Oscars for The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher/Austria-Germany) and La Vie en Rose (La Môme/France).

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission

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EU Funding: Third maritime safety package

Mardi 26 août 2008

In its work programme for the second half of 2008, the French Presidency has set itself the objective of making progress on the third maritime safety package (”Erika III”)

 
 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants in the frame of the Trans-European Networks for transport

Erika III consists of seven legislative proposals presented by the European Commission in November 2005. On the basis of five of these proposals, the EU Transport Council meeting on 6 June in Luxemburg adopted six common positions, which were subsequently transmitted to the European Parliament for a second reading in the framework of the co-decision procedure. The Council seeks a swift agreement with the Parliament on the six dossiers.

The Erika III package intends to amend the existing European legislation on maritime safety and complete it by new measures. The texts agreed upon in the Council would strengthen the present provisions concerning the inspections carried out at ports on vessels flying foreign flags (port state controls) as well as the monitoring system set up in 2002 to enhance the safety and efficiency of maritime traffic in Community waters. They would also reinforce the control of the organisations which inspect ships and issue the relevant safety certificates on behalf of the flag states (so called classification societies). In addition, they foresee EU-wide rules governing the investigation of accidents at sea as well as compensation for passengers involved in maritime accidents.

Following the accidental oil spill of the tanker “Erika” in December 1999 off the French coast, the EU member states adopted in 2001 a set of measures (”Erika I” package) to improve safety at sea. Erika I, which entered into force on 22 July 2003, provided for stricter port state controls and the accelerated withdrawal of all single-hull oil tankers. Simultaneously, the requirements for classification societies were raised. These measures were supplemented in 2002 by the “Erika II” package, which included the creation of the Community vessel traffic monitoring system as well the establishment of the European Maritime Safety Agency to ensure the effective implementation of the EU’s maritime safety rules.

 
  Source:
EU Council

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EU Funding: EU funds heart project

Lundi 25 août 2008

The EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) has awarded EUR 14 million to a 4-year project, euHeart, for the improvement of the diagnosis, therapy and treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD)

 
 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 New framework programme for research and technology aiming at better exploiting research capacities in Europe and transforming scientific results into new products, processes and services.
 Grants for research projects concerning the treatment of major diseases and the delivery of health care

The consortium comprises public and private partners from 16 research, academic, industrial and medical organisations from 6 European countries.

In the EU alone, CVD takes the lives of 1.9 million people annually and costs an estimated EUR 105 billion in healthcare. Advances in the management of coronary heart disease and chronic heart failure are, therefore, seen as crucial to reducing the human cost and financial burden of CVD.

The euHeart consortium focuses on developing technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, heart rhythm disorders and congenital heart defects. Specifically, it aims to develop computer models of the heart on multiple scales, from the molecular level to that of the whole organ, that can be adapted to individual patients.

The computer models will be functional as well as structural, incorporating clinical knowledge of how CVD affects the heart at each level. It is hoped that this will lead to the development of tools designed to predict outcomes for different therapies or treatments; if models can be personalised to individual patients, therapy and treatment could be equally personalised.

A person suffering from CVD could benefit from having a personalised computer model of their heart because it would address their own peculiarities. For example, the electrical activity in every patient’s heart is subtly different; for certain conditions a computerised model reflecting the patient’s unique heart structure and function would enable doctors to test the results of destroying different areas of tissue before they have to operate.

Multi-scale models have been used mainly in basic research, as the difficulty of adapting these models to individual human beings makes clinical applications impractical. To overcome this problem, the euHeart project intends to develop its models using novel information and communication technologies together with existing clinical data such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound scans, as well as measurements of blood flow and blood pressure in the coronary arteries and electrocardiograms. Gene defects in individual patients could also be taken into account.

Pre-diagnosed conditions such as heart arrhythmias would likely be the first to benefit from advances in computer modelling of CVD. Heart failure, coronary artery disease and diseases of the heart valves and aorta would also be major clinical focus areas.

As in many fields of research, one of the challenges of CVD modelling is integrating the vast amount of emerging and existing data; establishing CVD models on multiple levels could provide a consistent framework for such integration. The euHeart project will establish an open-source framework (using standardised mark-up languages such as CellML and FieldML) for both normal and pathological models that will integrate and interconnect existing and future models from myriad areas of biological research. It will additionally establish a shared library of innovative tools for biophysical simulations, model personalisation and automated image analysis.

Creating the highly personalised tools proposed by the consortium is no small feat: the euHeart consortium brings together an incredible amount of expertise and talent from across the EU to make this mammoth task possible. Different parts of the program are co-ordinated by Philips Research, King’s College London and the University of Oxford; the consortium also includes participants in Germany, Spain, France and Belgium. The project is part of the Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) initiative, which aims to produce a unified computer model of the entire human body as a single complex system.

 
  Source:
Cordis

EU Funding: Serbia - Healthy food “from farm to fork ”: new stage of EU-funded assistance

Lundi 25 août 2008

A new stage has been launched in the five-year EU-funded programme of the European Agency for Reconstruction to help improve food safety in Serbia

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Assistance to the Candidate countries to support their progressive compliance with EU rules and policies, including the acquis communautaire if necessary, in preparation for their accession

A new stage has been launched in the five-year EU-funded programme of the European Agency for Reconstruction to help improve food safety in Serbia. In a two-year project costing €1.5 million, a German team will provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management to review and consolidate the system of animal identification and registration - which, with EU help, has been developed over this period - and to bring it fully into line with EU practice and legislation.

The latest phase of the programme was promoted at a press event on 2 August in the livestock market in the town of Obrenovac on the outskirts of Belgrade.

Since the animal ID and registration scheme was started in 2003, huge numbers of farm animals have been registered in the Ministry’s central database: 2.3 million cattle in 300,000 holdings, 1.6 million sheep in 104,000 holdings, 122,000 goats in 26,500 holdings and 8 million pigs in 310,059 holdings. Data were collected and entered by the veterinary stations situated across Serbia. The system’s infrastructure was designed to allow any kind of data exchange between the field and the central database and other relevant institutions.

The system ‘users’ are the Ministry’s Veterinary Directorate, and veterinary inspectors and stations. The functions of the system include remote data entry (to register new holdings, newborn calves, imported animals, all types of movements of animals, requests for ear-tags and replacement ear-tags) and data retrieval (searching for holdings, keepers, animals, lists of animals, tracing forward and backward, simple statistics, etc.).

EAR programme manager Simon Davies said that the overall aim of the new project was to bring this system into full compliance with all the provisions prescribed by European legislation.
Once the audit has been fully analysed, the EU-funded experts and the Ministry will develop an action plan: this will be implemented as the third part of the project, which will run until April 2010.

Benefits of the ID&R system
Systematic animal identification and registration makes an essential contribution to the safety of the food chain and therefore to public health as a whole. It also plays an important role in ensuring the requisite quality standards for the export of animals, meat and animal products, and therefore to the economy of a country.

The system uses bar-coded ear-tags, with an individual number for each animal. These allow access for any user to that animal’s health record which is maintained in a central database. The system can provide information for a range of related applications: breeding, subsidy payments, and veterinary procedures dealing with the treatment, prevention and epidemiology of animal diseases. The history of livestock and their movements can be traced, and this means that animal products can also be traced right back to their place of production. This improves animal health, food quality and safety and, therefore, consumer protection.

The ID&R system, based on legislation in line with EU standards, helps to produce healthy, high quality products “from farm to fork ”. As a beef exporter to the EU, Serbia needs to ensure its position on the EU market. Compliance with EU food safety standards in beef production makes possible export of lamb and other meat products. A market of 500 million EU consumers awaits the arrival of quality Serbian meat and dairy products.

 
  Source:
European Agency for Reconstruction

EU Funding: Nominations for the 2010 European Youth Capital now open

Lundi 25 août 2008

European cities can announce their interest by outlining their plans for an ambitious one year programme empowering youth

Nominations need to be accompanied by a statement of support by an independent local or regional youth structure, or, if no local youth council exists, a relevant coalition of local youth NGOs. It is important that the commitment of young people to the application can be demonstrated from the start!

The deadline for applications is 20 September.

 
     
  More information:
Youth Forum

EU Funding: MUSE advances broadband technology in Europe

Vendredi 1 août 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for the development of an inclusive information society and more efficient and effective services in areas of public interest, and improvement of quality of life
 Grants for research projects to develop products, service and process innovation and creativity through the use of ICT for citizens, businesses, industry and governments
 Grants for research projects to develop products, service and process innovation and creativity through the use of ICT for citizens, businesses, industry and governments

Europeans have a strong foothold in information technology research

Not only has their research fuelled growth for the sector and industry, but consumers have also been feeling the positive effects of the technologies that have emerged over the years. Adding to this remarkable development is the MUSE (Multi Service Access Everywhere) project. Backed by the EU with €15.5 million in funding, MUSE contributed to the strategic objective ‘Broadband for All’ of Information Society Technologies.

The MUSE partners targeted the research and development of an affordable, yet faster, broadband network in the first phase of the project. Their efforts paid off and now enterprises are keen to acquire the technology - the so-called Global System for Broadband (GSB) that the partners developed.

But their work did not stop there. In phase 2 of the project, the consortium further enhanced services and developed the GSB in order to be in line with emerging technologies and services.

MUSE succeeded in developing a solution supporting multimedia services, such as IPTV, and fixed-mobile convergence, which offers consumers two services: (1) access to their broadband service from any location, thus burning fewer holes in their pockets and (2) a single device for video and telephone calls use. But the project also created a ‘network intelligence’ and offered solutions for giving network access to services and service providers.

With respect to IPTV, MUSE has afforded more sophisticated technology through the development of intelligence in the access network. For researchers, the key IPTV challenge was dealing with network deceleration caused by sudden bandwidth use. So by developing a cache system in the access network that is closer to home, MUSE was able to save bandwidth on the metro network, Mr Vetter said.

It’s not just consumers that will benefit from MUSE’s latest achievements. MUSE has also developed various network interfaces for different service providers, effectively giving them tailor-made network solutions to meet their needs. The industry is now taking a hard look at what MUSE can offer.

 
  Source:
Cordis

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