Articles taggés avec ‘innovation’

What are the opportunities for European research?

Lundi 30 janvier 2012

A consultation on the European research shows the ways to make Europe more attractive for researchers, but also increasing transnationally-coordinated research; achieving higher scientific excellence; moving, working and co-operating freely across borders or tackling global challenges.

These are some of the key themes resulting from a public consultation on the European Research Area (ERA), which ended on 30 November 2011. The Commission will now decide which issues should be addressed as priorities when finalising the ERA Framework, to be tabled in June 2012 with a view to completing ERA by 2014. The findings were presented today by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn at the “ERA conference 2012, Fostering Efficiency, Excellence and Growth” in Brussels.

Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “With Europe crying out for growth, ERA can’t wait any longer. We can’t continue with a situation where research funding is not always allocated competitively, where positions are not always filled on merit, where researchers can’t take their grants across borders, where large parts of Europe are not even in the game, where there is a scandalous waste of female talent and where our brightest and best are leaving never to return. I want an entirely new ERA-partnership, with stronger role for key stakeholders, and much tougher monitoring of Member States’ progress. I will not hesitate to “name and shame” those who perform badly against ERA objectives.”

The European Commission received 590 responses to the on-line questionnaire and 101 ad hoc position papers by national and European research organisations and governments. Respondents to the online survey indicated deficiencies in research careers and mobility as the most urgent priority. This was followed by problems relating to research infrastructures, knowledge transfer and cross-border collaboration. A broad majority of respondents also highlighted that a higher involvement of women in science will contribute to European socio-economic growth. In position papers, cross-border collaboration, international cooperation, as well as open access to publications and data were on a similar footing to researcher-related issues.

One of the main messages from the research community is the need to attract and retain more leading researchers in Europe and to provide researchers with better and especially business-relevant skills. The global attractiveness of Europe as a location for researchers and private R&D investment should also be increased by reducing the fragmentation of the European market, and by improving employment and career prospects for researchers. The lack of open and transparent recruitment procedures is regarded as one of the main barriers to internationally mobile researchers. It is also necessary to coordinate research at transnational level to raise research quality, reduce costs and tackle global challenges.

Background

The Commission is engaging with stakeholders to design an ambitious ERA Framework. At the European Council of 4 February 2011, EU heads of state and government endorsed the Commission’s proposal to create Innovation Union and called for the completion of the European Research Area by 2014 to create a genuine single market for knowledge research and innovation. The ERA Framework will focus on non-funding measures, while Horizon 2020 is the financial pillar of the Innovation Union.

Proposed in January 2000 by the European Commission in its communication “Towards a European Research Area” (COM(2000)6), and launched at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000, the creation of a European Research Area (ERA) was given new impetus in 2007 with the European Commission’s Green Paper on ERA (COM(2000)161), followed by the Ljubljana Process in 2008.

A new look for CORDIS

Lundi 23 janvier 2012

The site offers a new database for its projects.

The European Union has some of the world’s best research facilities and most accomplished researchers. Harnessing their full potential will help turn novel ideas into jobs, green growth and social progress. To facilitate this, the European Commission finances, either wholly or partially, a wide range of individual research and technology development projects. Details about many of these can be found on the Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) - the primary information source for EU-funded projects.

A new Projects Service, launched on 16 January 2012, will enhance the role of CORDIS. Designed not only to be a comprehensive reference point for project participants, coordinators and stakeholders, the service will also make information and data available to wider audiences.

CORDIS has project records covering a myriad of science, technology and research-related fields and topics. Dating from before 1986 to the present, they relate to not only the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), but also previous Framework Programmes. The new service will use the breadth of the CORDIS repository as a base to bring together a wide variety of information related to individual projects, including:
- project details such as description, funding, programme;
- project results such as documents, reports, summaries;
- links;
- publications;
- multimedia;
- information and details on project participants.

The new Projects Service will unlock content, standardise the presentation of project information, and help users to find out more.

Project records are added to the database once they are made available to CORDIS by the Commission service responsible. The new service provides tools and pointers that can help filter and facilitate search queries.

Even when a project has finished, specific project information can help with result development, the planning of new initiatives, the indication of new research avenues and more.

Europe has got memory !

Jeudi 22 décembre 2011

A new project funded by the FP7 aims to create RAM chips of 100Gbit/s

This article is only available in french

The FP7 supports a project of German biofuel

Mardi 20 décembre 2011

Europe supports research on renewable energy produced from waste.

Supporting this objective is the BIOBOOST (’Biomass-based energy intermediates boosting biofuel production’) project. Set to kick off at the start of 2012, BIOBOOST will develop novel energy carriers, generating energy-rich intermediate products from biogenous residues, assess environmental compatibility and optimise logistics chains. The BIOBOOST partners will ultimately boost biomass and residues use across Europe. The project is funded under the Energy Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to the tune of EUR 5.1 million.

Led by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany, the BIOBOOST team will convert residual biomass into energy carriers for the production of high-quality and engine-compatible fuels and chemicals, as well as for the generation of heat and electricity.

The work will complement KIT’s bioliq(R) concept, which targets the production of designer fuels for diesel and Otto engines from biogenous residues such as straw. ‘Due to its broader access to usable residues and a broader spectrum of use of the energy carriers, this project fits excellently to our bioliq(R) project in Karlsruhe,’ says Dr Ralph Stahl from the Institute of Catalysis Research and Technology (IKFT) at KIT. ‘Both projects profit from each other in an ideal manner.’

The team will use biogenous residues to produce a variety of intermediate products that are rich in energy. The researchers will also test and assess them with respect to their usability in the bioliq(R) process, for instance. Besides the BioSynCrude(R) produced by flash pyrolysis in the bioliq(R) process, BIOBOOST will focus on generating, optimising and assessing other products as well, and will evaluate the economic efficiency of the entire process. These activities will help the project partners in their quest to improve the efficiency of future biomass and residues use.

The BIOBOOST consortium will tackle this issue in a series of steps. They will initially focus their efforts on concentrating the energy, as the residual biomass (e.g. straw) materialises in a spatially distributed manner and contains a tiny amount of energy. Biogenous residues are converted into coke and oil at decentralised facilities; this is performed via pyrolysis or carbonisation. The products are mixed to form energy-rich intermediate products containing up to 90% of the energy stored in the biomass. These energy carriers can be further processed after they have been moved to a central location, where they undergo large-scale use. The transport is performed in an economically efficient way.

Apart from generating customised fuel like gasoline, kerosene or diesel, the BIOBOOST team will look into the manufacture of plastics and chemicals, namely propylene, methanol and ethylene.

Scheduled to end in 2015, the BIOBOOST project brings together experts from Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland and Finland.

Green light for the EU Patent

Mardi 20 décembre 2011

The Legal Affairs Committee has approved today the single European patent system.

In three separate voting sessions, Legal Affairs Committee MEPs backed a political deal struck last 1 December between Parliament and Council negotiators on the so-called “EU patent package” (unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court). If Parliament as a whole and the Council confirm the deal, a new EU patent will be created.

The negotiations were led, for Parliament, by committee chair Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, DE), Bernhard Rapkay (S&D, DE) and Raffaele Baldassarre (EPP, IT). MEPs inserted some provisions, among others, to tailor the proposed regime to the needs of small and medium-sized firms (SMEs).

Cheaper and more effective protection

The new patent will be less expensive and more effective than current systems in protecting the inventions of individuals and firms. The new system would provide automatic unitary patent protection and substantially cut costs for EU firms and help boost their competitiveness. The European Commission says that when the new system is up to speed, an EU patent may cost just €680, compared to an average of €1,850 for an American one.

To obtain EU-wide protection today, a European inventor has to validate a patent in each EU Member State, through the European Patent Office (EPO), a non-EU body. This procedure entails costs, especially for translation, that can make a European patent 10 times more expensive than a US one.

A unified patent court, to be set up through an international agreement currently being negotiated by Member States, will also cut costs and reduce current legal uncertainty due to differing national interpretations.

How to apply for the new patent?

Any inventor would be able to apply for an EU patent ensuring protection in all the 25 EU Member States concerned. Patents will be made available in English, French and German, but applications may be submitted in any EU language. Translation costs from a language other than the three official ones would be compensated.

MEPs for SMEs

Thanks to Parliament, specific measures were agreed to facilitate SMEs’ access to the European patent market. These range from stronger legal protection to full compensation of translation costs. Parliament’s also obtained an improvement in the rules on how patent offices share renewal fees, upon which the economic sustainability of the whole system lies.

Next steps

Before the new regulation can enter into force, it must be endorsed by the full Parliament, possibly at the February plenary session, and the Council.

The legislation is being dealt under the so-called “enhanced cooperation procedure”, which allows groups of Member States to integrate policies further, even where others do not agree. Spain and Italy have so far opted out of work on the patent proposal, but could join the decision-making process at any time. This procedure was adopted to unblock the file, long stalled over language issues.

The European Union is funding two new projects for the study of greenhouse gas emissions

Lundi 19 décembre 2011

Both projects AMITRAN and INGOS are designed to study concretely the measurement of greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the projects, titled AMITRAN (’Assessment methodologies for ICT in multimodal transport from user behaviour to CO2 reduction’) aims to scientifically underpin carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions estimations by developing a methodology to assess the impact of ICT (information and communication technologies) and ITS (intelligent transport systems) on transport sector CO2 emissions.

Bringing together partners from Belgium, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Romania, AMITRAN received EUR 1 900 000 of funding as part of the ‘ICT’ Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

ICT measures can help transport become less carbon intensive and more efficient as well as increase safety, manage transport demand, ensure transit reliability and improve traffic flow. ICT use in the transport sector includes its application in navigation and travel information systems, route advice to supporting drivers in adopting eco-driving behaviour, logistics and fleet management systems and optimised traffic light phasing at junctions, reserving parking spaces and paying road tolls.

The final result of the project will be a publicly available checklist and handbook that can be used for future projects. They will serve as a reference in assessing the ITS benefits in terms of CO2 emission reductions for passenger transport and road, rail, and ship freight transport.

But while CO2 attracts the most media attention, the harmful effects of other greenhouse gases must also be dealt with as a matter of urgency. That is why another new EU-funded initiative is working towards finding accurate measurements of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.

INGOS (’Integrated non-CO2 greenhouse gas observation system’) is funded in part by almost EUR 8 million under FP7’s ‘Infrastructures’ Theme and brings together partner institutions from 14 participating countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

So far, the figures for these greenhouse gases have to a large extent been calculated based on estimations. INGOS aims to provide actual measurements of emissions in the participating countries.

Measurements from towers, peaks, masts and other relevant points around Europe are going to be carried out, and the network will also work with computer models to provide an accurate picture of where and how much is being emitted.

The launch of these two new projects shows that whether on or off Europe’s transport thoroughfares, accurate measurements of all greenhouse gases are essential for meeting the EU’s climate action targets. Both AMITRAN and INGOS aim to move forward research into one of the most important and pressing challenges the EU faces today.

The European Commission has proposed the ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector by 60% for the period from 1990 to 2050. But with present transport emissions levels currently 27% above 1990 levels, there remains a lot of work to be done.

The European Commission promotes eco innovation business

Jeudi 15 décembre 2011

Eco innovation is a priority of the Europe 2020 strategy.

The new Eco-Innovation Action Plan (EcoAP) will boost innovation that reduces pressure on the environment, and bridge the gap between innovation and the market. Eco-friendly technologies are good for business and help create new jobs, so eco-innovation is crucial to the economic competitiveness of Europe.

The EcoAP is one of the commitments of the Innovation Union Flagship Initiative, building on the 2004 Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP). It expands the focus from green technologies to the broader concept of eco-innovation, targeting specific bottlenecks, challenges and opportunities for achieving environmental objectives through innovation. The EcoAP includes actions both on the demand and supply side, on research and industry and on policy and financial instruments. The Plan recognizes the key role of environmental regulation as a driver of eco-innovation and foresees a review of environmental legislation. It also stresses the importance of research and innovation to produce more innovative technologies and bring them to the market. The Plan also puts emphasis on the international aspect of eco-innovation, and on better coordination of policies with international partners.

The Action Plan will accelerate eco-innovation across all sectors of the economy with well targeted actions. To help create stronger and more stable market demand for eco-innovation, it will take measures in the areas of regulatory incentives, private and public procurement and standards and it will mobilise support for Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to improve investment readiness and networking opportunities.

Key aspects of the new Action Plan include:

- Using environmental policy and legislation to promote eco-innovation;
- Supporting demonstration projects and partnering to bring promising, smart and ambitious operational technologies to market;
- Developing new standards to boost eco-innovation;
- Mobilising financial instruments and support services for SMEs;
- Promoting international co-operation;
- Supporting the development of emerging skills and jobs and related training programmes to match labour market needs; and
- Promoting eco-innovation through European Innovation Partnerships

Next Steps
Implementation of the plan will be via partnership between stakeholders, private and public sector, and the Commission. The upcoming mid-term financial review will provide a good opportunity to assess the achievement of the goals set in this Action Plan. New efforts will focus on product development and demonstration activities to fill the gap between technology and market uptake.

Background
Eco-Innovation is any form of innovation resulting in or aiming at significant and demonstrable progress towards the goal of sustainable development, through reducing impacts on the environment, enhancing resilience to environmental pressures, or achieving a more efficient and responsible use of natural resources.

European eco-industries are a significant economic sector with an annual turnover estimated at EUR 319 billion, or about 2.5 % of EU GDP.

FP7 supports a marine renewable energy

Vendredi 9 décembre 2011

The MARINET initiative (”Marine renewables infrastructure network”) has a budget of 9 million euro.

Led by researchers at the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre (HMRC) at University College Cork in Ireland, the project, funded as part of the ‘Infrastructures’ Theme of the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), will allow companies to carry out renewable energy testing at these centres at no extra cost.

The MARINET project, which launches its call for proposals this month and will run until 2015, will help remove some of the financial barriers that sometimes stand in the way of access to world-class European testing facilities. Under MARINET, companies and research groups will have access to facilities outside their own country. Testing will focus on checking concepts and devices in areas such as wave energy, tidal energy, offshore-wind energy and the environment. It is hoped that this project will play a part in accelerating widespread development of marine renewable energy.

Offshore renewable conversion systems are mostly at the pre-commercial stage of development. They comprise wave energy and tidal stream converters as well as offshore wind turbines for electrical generation. These devices require research to be undertaken at a series of scales along the path to commercialisation.

Each technology type is currently at a different stage of development, but each one also needs specific research infrastructures to facilitate and catalyse commercialisation. The aim of this project is to coordinate research and development at all scales (from small models through to prototype scales, from laboratory through to open sea tests), and to allow access for researchers and developers to facilities that are not universally available in Europe.

The MARINET network is made up of 42 testing facilities at 28 research centres in 11 European countries as well as in Brazil. By linking these marine renewable-energy testing facilities and using an agreed testing framework, this initiative now provides a clear path to commercialisation: it allows allowing users to seamlessly progress their device through each phase of testing. All participating centres will use common standards, conduct research to improve their own testing capability and provide training to enhance expertise in the field.

This focus on commercialisation is in line with the Commission’s objective to speed up the rate of research outcomes reaching the marketplace.

Over the course of the project, at least four calls for applications will be made. Potential users, who must work in an EU Member State or an associated Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) country, can now apply to access the facilities as part of this first call.

The Irish facilities, for example, will be based at HMRC, part of the new Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC) which was launched recently by the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. There will be wave tank and electrical testing facilities located in Cork, and through the Galway Bay and Belmullet energy test sites of the Ocean Energy Development Unit (OEDU) of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), County Mayo will form part of the facilities on offer too.

Professor Tony Lewis from the HMRC warns companies not to miss out on this opportunity, and urges them to apply for the funding to access these facilities.
‘MARINET offers a unique opportunity to access these world-class European test facilities in order to validate and progress concepts at any stage of development, and to ultimately harness the untapped renewable energy resources that are abundant around the European coastline. This is a great opportunity to advance marine renewable research testing and commercial development.’

The other countries participating in the project are Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

The European unit Patent moves forward

Vendredi 2 décembre 2011

The European patent for improving European competitiveness was approved by the Committee on Legal Affairs and the negotiators of the Council Presidency

MEPs succeeded in adapting the proposed regime to small firms’ needs, but the deal still needs to approved by Parliament as a whole and the 25 EU Member States involved.

Parliament’s rapporteurs struck a political agreement with the Polish Presidency of the Council on the three proposals (unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court) that form the “EU patent package”. The agreement will have now to be confirmed by both the Parliament (after a vote in committee) and the Council. The regulation should enter into force in 2014.

The aim of creating an EU patent is twofold. First to reduce current patenting costs by up to 80%, so as to improve the competitive position of EU firms vis-à-vis their counterparts in the US and Japan, where patents are substantially cheaper. Second, it should help to avoid the legal confusion created when dealing with differing national patent laws.

MEPs aim to cut costs for small firms

The first piece of legislation in the package is a regulation setting up a unitary patent protection system. The agreed text largely reflects the Commission proposal, and in particular a provision allowing inventors from countries currently outside the procedure to apply for an EU patent.

Specific provisions have been introduced to ensure that small firms benefit from reduced costs and a sound system for distributing patent renewal fees. (Renewal fees account for a big share of total costs, and the economic sustainability of the system as a whole depends upon them).

What language for EU-wide patents?

The proposed regime for translating EU patents would make them available in German, English and French, although applications could be submitted in any EU language. Translation costs from a language other than the three official ones would be compensated.

Enforcing protection

An international agreement is currently being negotiated by Member States participating in the procedure to create a unified patent court so as to reduce costs and uncertainty as to the law due to differing national interpretations.

Salzburg winner of the Access City Award 2012

Jeudi 1 décembre 2011

This award honors cities that improve accessibility for disabled people

The annual honour aims to award efforts to improve accessibility in the urban environment and to foster equal participation of people with disabilities. The European Commission commended Salzburg’s long-standing commitment, coherent approach and excellent results in improving accessibility, achieved with the direct participation of people with disabilities.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner, presented the award on the occasion of the European Day of People with Disabilities. The initiative – organised in partnership with the European Disability Forum (EDF) – is a key action under the EU’s disability strategy (IP/10/1505 and MEMO/10/578) and aims to promote accessibility initiatives in European cities.

The European jury selected Salzburg for its outstanding achievements in all key accessibility areas: the built environment and public spaces; transport and related infrastructure; information and communication, including new technologies, public facilities and services.

The other finalists were (in alphabetical order):

- Krakow (Poland), selected for its commitment to improving accessibility in the challenging context of an inaccessible infrastructure and for the special attention paid to access cultural heritage monuments;
- Marburg (Germany), chosen for its long-standing commitment to accessibility, a clear, long-term strategy for the future, and for the exemplary integration of people with disabilities in the municipality’s accessibility projects, from the planning phase to execution;
- Santander (Spain), nominated as a finalist for its consistently accessibility-friendly urban programmes following a universal design approach, as well as for the quality and sustainability of the results achieved.
The second edition of the Access City award received nominations from 114 cities in 23 EU countries. Participating cities had to provide evidence of their efforts and achievements in guaranteeing equal access for everybody, regardless of age or ability. National juries composed of people with disabilities and experts on accessibility pre-selected thirty-one applicants for the European level selection.

Background
‘Accessibility’ means that people with disabilities have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, transportation, information and communications technologies and systems, and other facilities and services.

This is the second annual edition of the Access City award. The first went to Avila in Spain (IP/10/1641). In addition to the winner and three finalists, this year the jury also assigned special mentions to:

- Grenoble (France) for public facilities and services: a long-standing commitment to improving accessibility and a coherent social inclusion policy underpinned by accessible infrastructures;
- Ljubljana (Slovenia) for transport and related infrastructures: consistent and integrated to accessibility in the city centre (buses fitted with audio and video stop announcements, Braille signs at bus stops, city centre tactile map);
- Olomouc (Czech Republic) for information and communication, including new technologies: this has resulted in innovative projects such as a multimedia tourist guide - a novel interactive navigation tool including a GPS system as well as audio and visual information in several languages;
- Terrassa (Spain) for the built environment and public spaces: sustained efforts in making historical sites accessible; a focus on eliminating architectural barriers in residential buildings, parks, streets, squares and heritage buildings, including installation of lifts, ramps and bridges.