Articles taggés avec ‘innovation’

The European Commission presents its new Horizon 2020 programme

Mercredi 30 novembre 2011

The Commission today presented a financial instrument of 80 billion euros for research and innovation

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has announced Horizon 2020, an €80 billion1 programme for investment in research and innovation. Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou has put forward a Strategic Innovation Agenda for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which will receive €2.8 billion of funding under Horizon 2020. In parallel, Vice-President Antonio Tajani has announced a complementary new programme to boost competitiveness and innovation in SMEs, with an additional budget of €2.5 billion. The funding programmes run from 2014 to 2020.

For the first time, Horizon 2020 brings together all EU research and innovation funding under a single programme. It focuses more than ever on turning scientific breakthroughs into innovative products and services that provide business opportunities and change people’s lives for the better. At the same time it drastically cuts red tape, with simplification of rules and procedures to attract more top researchers and a broader range of innovative businesses.

Horizon 2020 will focus funds on three key objectives. It will support the EU’s position as a world leader in science with a dedicated budget of €24.6 billion, including an increase in funding of 77% for the very successful European Research Council (ERC). It will help secure industrial leadership in innovation with a budget of €17.9 billion. This includes a major investment of €13.7 billion in key technologies, as well as greater access to capital and support for SMEs. Finally, €31.7 billion will go towards addressing major concerns shared by all Europeans, across six key themes: Health, demographic change and well-being; Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research and the bio-economy; Secure, clean and efficient energy; Smart, green and integrated transport; Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials; and Inclusive, innovative and secure societies.

Background
Horizon 2020 is a key pillar of Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at enhancing Europe’s global competitiveness. The European Union is a global leader in many technologies, but it faces increasing competition from traditional powers and emerging economies alike. The Commission proposal will now be discussed by the Council and the European Parliament, with a view to adoption before the end of 2013.

Funding provided by Horizon 2020 will be easier to access thanks to this simpler programme architecture, a single set of rules and less red tape. Horizon 2020 will mean: drastically simplified reimbursement by introducing a single flat rate for indirect costs and only two funding rates - for research and for close to market activities respectively; a single point of access for participants; less paperwork in preparing proposals; and no unnecessary controls and audits. One key goal is to reduce the time until funding is received following a grant application by 100 days on average, meaning projects can start more quickly.

The Commission will make major efforts to open up the programme to more participants from across Europe by exploring synergies with funds under the EU’s Cohesion policy. Horizon 2020 will identify potential centres of excellence in underperforming regions and offer them policy advice and support, while EU Structural Funds can be used to upgrade infrastructure and equipment.

€3.5 billion will be devoted to a scaled up and expanded use of financial instruments that leverage lending from private sector financial institutions. These have been shown to be extremely effective at stimulating private investment in innovation that leads directly to growth and jobs. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will benefit from around €8.6 billion, recognising their critical role in innovation.

Horizon 2020 will invest nearly €6 billion in developing European industrial capabilities in Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). These include: Photonics and micro- and nanoelectronics, nanotechnologies, advanced materials and advanced manufacturing and processing, and biotechnology. Development of these technologies requires a multi-disciplinary, knowledge- and capital-intensive approach.

Under the Commission proposal, €5.75 billion (+21%) will be allocated to the Marie Curie Actions, which has supported the training, mobility and skills development of more than 50 000 researchers since its launch in 1996.

As an integral part of Horizon 2020, the EIT will play an important role by bringing together excellent higher education institutions, research centres and businesses to create the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and to ensure that the European ‘knowledge triangle’ is a match for the world’s best. The Commission has decided to significantly step up its support for the EIT by proposing a budget of €2.8 billion for 2014-2020 (up from €309 million since its launch in 2008). The EIT is based on a pioneering concept of cross-border public-private-partnership hubs known as Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). Its three existing KICs, focused on sustainable energy (KIC InnoEnergy), climate change (Climate KIC) and information and communication society (EIT ICT Labs), will be expanded with six new ones in 2014-2020 (see IP/11/1479 and MEMO/11/851).

Funding for the European Research Council (ERC) will increase by 77% to €13.2 billion. The ERC supports the most talented and creative scientists to carry out frontier research of the highest quality in Europe, in a programme that is internationally recognised and respected.

International cooperation will also be further promoted in Horizon 2020, in order to strengthen the EU’s excellence and attractiveness in research, to tackle global challenges jointly and to support EU external policies.

The Joint Research Centre (JRC), the in-house science service of the European Commission, will continue providing scientific and technical support to EU policy making on everything from environment, agriculture and fisheries through to nanotechnology and nuclear safety.

Horizon 2020 will be complemented by further measures to complete the European Research Area, a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation by 2014.

With the FP7, the European Union is funding a project on the electric effectiveness

Mercredi 16 novembre 2011

Several European researchers have partnered on a new project funded by the European Union in the areas of energy converters for ICT and photovoltaics.

The HIPOSWITCH (GaN-based normally-off high power switching transistor for efficient power converters) project, which received a EUR 3 578 938 funding boost as part of the ICT Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), will cover the whole value added chain, from power device development to industrial application.

The project will focus on a key component in electronic power converters: power transistors that transform continuous and alternating current into the effective voltages used by the systems. Such transistors can be found in almost every technical device around today, and in ICT they play a crucial role in mobile communications base stations. They are also used in alternating current/direct current (AC/DC) power supplies for computers, networks and data storage, as well as in solar converters, electric vehicles and hybrid cars.

The challenge facing scientists today is to develop modern power converter systems that consume less energy but produce greater outputs, and protect natural resources. The HIPOSWITCH researchers are focusing on novel gallium nitride (GaN)-based transistors - key switching devices ensuring increased efficiency in future power converter systems that require less volume and weight while offering enhanced performance.

Often a systems’ efficiency is limited by the active components used; currently most models are based on silicon (Si), which has now been advanced to the point where no further improvements can be made. GaN as a material offers many more and new possibilities - it is perfect for power switching in particular, due to its superior material properties. Thanks to GaN, power switches can operate at significantly higher frequencies without suffering from major switching losses. This is due to the drastically lower on-state resistance of GaN power transistors, combined with considerably reduced input and output capacitances.

The scientists also stress that an increase in switching frequency has additional consequences for the passive components, as the volume of inductors, current transformers and capacitors can be significantly reduced. Therefore, by using GaN as a material, the whole system becomes smaller and lighter.

The project will employ sophisticated device characterisation and reliability evaluation techniques. It will bring together experienced partners in automotive technology, power electronic system and circuit design, power semiconductor technology, high-temperature packaging technologies and GaN power device technology including GaN on Si epitaxy.

The project will highlight the importance of collaboration between academia and industry, essential for getting innovative ideas to market.

The EU has not forgotten its outermost regions

Mercredi 9 novembre 2011

The outermost regions (ORs) receive a special allowance for the programming of 2007-2013. In the midst of negotiations on the next legislative package on Cohesion Policy, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, visited Martinique in order to inform the Presidents of the ORs on the future of these regions in regional policy European.

Commissioner Hahn attended the Conference of Presidents of Ultra-peripheral Regions (chaired by Regional Council President Serge Letchimy) in Martinique (France) on 3 and 4 November and outlined the Commission’s recent cohesion policy 2014-2020 proposals.
The new legislative package takes account of the special circumstances of ultra-peripheral regions, as recognised in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU):
- the specific allocation to compensate for additional costs due to their insularity is to be maintained;
- ultra-peripheral regions will continue to benefit from Community co-financing of up to 85%;
- they will also receive a larger envelope of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for territorial cooperation (up from EUR 150 million to 275 million).
The European Commission is in the process of planning a new strategy for the ultra-peripheral regions, to be adopted in 2012, which will make the most of their numerous advantages.
The European Union has 8 ultra-peripheral regions: five French overseas departments (Réunion, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Saint-Martin and Martinique), two Portuguese autonomous regions (Azores and Madeira) and one Spanish autonomous community (Canary Islands).

New technologies bring closer the EU and Brazil

Mardi 8 novembre 2011

The EU and strengthen ties with Brazil on behalf of the European Digital. They have established a joint research program in the field of ICT, with a budget of 10 million euros.

The European Commission and the Brazilian Government have agreed, at their annual Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) dialogue in Brasilia, to launch a new coordinated call for research and development proposals with €10 million available in funding.

This call for proposals will allow researchers and industries in the two regions to extend their work together into areas like cloud computing for science, sustainable technologies for smart cities, smart platforms for a smarter society, and hybrid broadcast-broadband TV applications and services. The Commission and the Brazilian authorities have also agreed to share their respective experience and knowledge of policy and regulatory aspects in the ICT field, such as broadband development, internet governance and security, cloud computing and digital broadcasting and content.

Today’s agreement means that EU and Brazilian researchers will join forces to deploy cloud computing solutions to address scientific challenges in fields such as environment modelling, bio diversity and life sciences. They will also work together to exploit sustainable technologies solutions (including microsystems and microelectronics) for smart cities and will deploy interoperable Internet infrastructures looking at how new trends on data (e.g. from sensors) and social networking can be applied to domains such as the management and monitoring of large crowds at large scale events, emergency situations and mobility. Europe and Brazil also agreed to work together towards the development of a new generation of hybrid broadcast-broadband TV applications and services, which take advantage of widespread internet connectivity, both for commercial use and for educational or public purposes.

Background

This agreement builds on more than a decade of Brazilian participation in the EU’s Research Framework Programmes (FP), with a total EU contribution for Brazilian organisations of more than €7 million. In FP7 (2007-2013), 48 Brazilian organisations have already become partners in projects funded under the EU’s ICT R&D and e-Infrastructures programmes. This represents more than a quarter of all Latin American participants in the EU’s research programmes and is expected to grow in the future, thanks to new funding opportunities to support collaboration with third countries.

This call builds on the first coordinated call that was launched in September of last year at the ICT 2010 “Digitally Driven” event held in Brussels (see IP/10/1200) with a joint funding of €10 million, which has funded projects in the areas of future Internet experimental facilities and security, microelectronics and micro-systems, networked monitoring and control, and e-Infrastructures.

This was the latest session of the annual Dialogue that the Commission and the Brazilian Government have established in the ICT field, covering policy and regulatory aspects, as well as R&D cooperation, in the context of the EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership launched in 2007.

Brazil also plays a pivotal role in the Latin American RedCLARA network, the first regional Latin American research and education network spanning 12 countries, which is currently co-funded by the EU @LIS2 Cooperation Programme with €12 million until 2012. RedCLARA and its high speed link to the pan-European GEANT2 network have triggered high-level cooperation between EU and Latin American researchers. For example, this powerful intercontinental infrastructure has enabled European astronomers to access data produced by a unique radio-telescope situated in Chile and to collaborate with their peers in Brazil or United States to dramatically improve astronomical observation.

The European Parliament is in favour of a growth-oriented budget for 2012

Vendredi 28 octobre 2011

Growth, employment, innovation and development support are the key terms of the new EU budget for 2012, such as opted by the European Parliament.

In general, MEPs sought to restore the draft budget proposed by the Commission, which the Council cut in July. Parliament’s position implies an increase in payments of 5.2% as compared to this year’s budget, resulting in a budget of €133.1 billion. The budget resolution was adopted with 431 votes in favour, 120 against and 124 abstentions.

A 21-day conciliation period starts in November, with meetings foreseen on 8 and 18 November. Furthermore, there are budget trilogues foreseen on 3, 10 and 14 November. If Parliament and Council can agree, the final budget could be approved at the December session in Brussels.

Investments in R&D, cohesion and structural funds on track

The spending categories that see the biggest increases in payments are Research and Development (10.35%) and Cohesion and Structural funds (8.8%). This is because these policies in fact consist of long-term investment projects which now, in the fifth year of the current multiannual financial framework (MFF), are up to full speed and for which money committed earlier now needs to be paid out.

Another category that sees a significant increase is Freedom, Security and Justice (6.84%), due to growing needs to manage refugee and migration flows and step up maritime surveillance in the Mediterranean.

By contrast, in category 1A, “Competitiveness for growth and employment” and category 4, “the EU as a global player”, Parliament wants to spend only slightly more than the Commission originally proposed.

Several MEPs criticised the Council for inconsistencies in its position on the Commission’s Draft Budget. The budgets for the new European financial supervision bodies and Frontex are deemed insufficient for them to function properly, whereas their work is considered a top priority.

Research, innovation and education (heading 1A)

Francesca Balzani (S&D, IT), who is steering the budget through Parliament, stressed that investments are needed to secure future growth and employment. Parliament followed her proposals to increase spending on programmes related to the EU2020 strategy

Parliament does not agree to funding the EU’s nuclear fusion programme ITER with money allocated for R&D under the 7th Research and Development Framework Programme, as the Commission and Council propose. As the idea for this mega-project was mooted during the current MFF period, MEPs feel it should be financed with fresh money, and not by funding taken from other research projects.

Cohesion policy (heading 1B)

On the policy for greater cohesion between the EU’s regions, MEPs restored the Commission’s draft budget proposal, which Member States had sought to cut.

Agriculture and environment (heading 2)

Parliament agreed to add €250 million to emergency funds for fruit and vegetable producers. This money is meant to prevent future crises like the EHEC-bacteria outbreak earlier this year and to compensate farmers for the financial consequences of further crises.

MEPs strongly defended the EU’s “food-for-the-needy” scheme, which provides food to food banks, for which Council is blocking a new legal basis.

Freedom, security, justice and citizenship (headings 3a and 3b)

Parliament disagreed with cuts proposed by the Council on the EU Refugee Fund, Return Fund and External Border Fund (€45 million). The budget for the EU border agency Frontex should be increased by a reserve of €25 million, they said, because this money might be needed for maritime border controls in the Mediterranean and for stepping up surveillance at the Greek-Turkish border. Just last month extra money was added to the 2011 budget for these purposes and MEPs feel that matters may not improve by the end of the year.

Foreign affairs (heading 4)

MEPs approved an increase of €100 million in aid to Palestine, the Middle East Peace process and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). They also approved €27 million for the development co-operation instrument for Asia and Latin America, and added €3 million for election observation missions and €3 million for the Turkish-Cypriot Community. To fund this, MEPs cut other lines, such as the EU Police Mission in Afghanistan and the line for emergency measures under the common foreign and security policy (CFSP).

Administration (heading 5)

The rapporteur for the EP budget and those of the other institutions, Mr José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT) proposed further cuts to Parliament’s budget. Parliament opted for a below-inflation increase of 1.44%, while doing significantly more with the money. The proposal now includes the accommodation of 18 extra MEPs as a result of the Lisbon Treaty. If these costs were excluded, the increase would amount to only 0.8%. To bring expenses down, MEPs intend to save money on translation and interpretation, by making organisational changes, and voted for a 5% cut in travel expenses, for example by reducing the number of business flights. All allowances will be frozen at 2011 levels.

The winners of Galileo Masters 2011

Jeudi 27 octobre 2011

The winners of the Galileo Master 2011 awards receives their prizes in Munich.

Also announced were the GSA Special Topic prize winner and the winner of the first-ever GMES Masters competition.

Europe is moving forward in the world of satellite navigation technologies, a sector up to now completely dominated by the GPS system. The milestone launch of the first two operational Galileo satellites in Kourou, French Guyana, on 21 October 2011, shows just how far Europe has come, now fashioning itself as an equal member in the global space power club.

The European Commission, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European GNSS Agency (GSA) and regional and national governments have all been doing their parts to get European industry, academia and research communities up to speed in the development of new services and applications to exploit increasingly accurate and available satellite-based positioning signals.

One way they’re doing so is through the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC), which hands out cash prizes and presents money-making opportunities to budding entrepreneurs with the ultimate aim of stimulating business and job creation in the EU.
Grand prize winner

At this year’s European Satellite Navigation Competition, the €20 000 Galileo Master grand prize went to the California-based start-up company Making Virtual Solid (MVS) for its groundbreaking ‘True3D’ navigation and guidance system, an augmented reality navigational display system designed to project non-distracting, translucent guidance information directly onto the windshield of a car.

In order to be considered in the ESNC finals, MVS had won the USA Challenge, a regional ESNC partnership organised by Inside GNSS magazine, which is also the global media sponsor for ESNC 2011. The company was one of five finalists introduced at the ION GNSS 2011 conference.
Gian Gherardo Calini with CATUAV’s Jordi Santacana ©Peter Gutierrez

Cost-engineered for the automotive market, True3D accurately places images – icons, road signs, a guide wire – in the driver’s forward view. These images appear to be outside the windshield, from a distance of two meters to infinity. The images, generated by linking GNSS, map, and other data, are designed to maximise situational awareness using NASA guidelines established for pilot safety.

Second place in the overall running was shared by Baden-Württemberg’s regional winner, Jens Rieder and his team from the Universität Heidenheim, for SkyAmps – a highly efficient, fully automatic wind power plant based on two kites; and the regional winner for Switzerland, Philipp Elbert and his team from the ETH Zürich and the Swiss company HESS AG, for AHEAD – a system designed to minimise the CO2 emissions of hybrid electric buses through a predictive energy management strategy based on precise positioning.

Third prize in the competition was also shared by two regional winners: Hesse’s Jörg Pfister of pwp-systems GbmH with PTbox, a robust positioning unit for public transport designed to offer enhanced attractiveness and reduced CO2 emissions; and Vladimír Vejvoda of Prague for Mobile Epileptic Fit Detector (MEFID), a mobile remote unit that can help save lives by rapidly detecting signs of an imminent epileptic attack in child patients.
Open competition

The ESNC, hosted by the Bavarian regional government in Germany, is open to applicants around the world, operating on a regional basis in Europe and with a number of non-European participants such as Canada, Australia, Taiwan, and the USA.

In his opening remarks to the awards ceremony, Bavarian State Minister for Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology Martin Zeil said that for the eighth year running, the ESNC is boosting innovation in satellite navigation on a global scale. He added that with 401 participants from 49 countries, this innovation contest reached new all-time highs this year.

In addition to the grand prize, 21 regional prizes and seven special prizes were awarded by partners from industry, research institutions and European institutions for the best GNSS-based applications.

Zeil said added that one-third of the winners of the previous ESNCs have gone on to found new companies. He added that this confirms their expectation that the innovation contest should provide a means of promoting the international commercialisation of space technologies and providing new businesses and jobs related to satellite navigation.

The GSA Special Topics Prize went to CATUAV, a small company in Catalonia developing a Mini-UAV Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), using GPS and EGNOS to allow safe navigation in controlled airspace.

The GSA’s Gian Gherardo Calini said that aviation is a key market for EGNOS, and this is why we are so excited about the winner of our Special Topic prize. As you know, EGNOS is now certified for aviation and so this is the time for all of us to be thinking about new aviation-related technologies, applications and services like the ones coming from companies like CATUAV.

For the first time, the Galileo Masters competition shared its stage with the new Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) Masters competition. Created by ESA, the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, the DLR German Aerospace Center and T-Systems, and supported by the EU, the GMES Masters competition received over 100 proposals from 17 countries.

Volker Liebig, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes, unveiled the Deforest ACTION Earth Watchers project as the first overall winner. Liebig said that this ambitious project, submitted by the Dutch company Geodan, takes an innovative approach to rainforest conservation. He added that it allows ordinary citizens to contribute to rainforest monitoring through social media using ‘crowd-sourcing’, which involves millions of volunteers who can analyse near-real-time satellite imagery to help halt illegal deforestation.

In a taped message, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said, “By triggering the creation of innovative value-added services, the GMES Masters competition demonstrates the potential of the GMES programme to stimulate economic growth in Europe. As this competition has clearly shown, an important number of promising business cases making use of GMES services are now ready to be implemented, and many more are to follow in the near future.”

The clean energy in Poland is supported by EU subsidies

Mardi 25 octobre 2011

The EIB wishes that energy is more efficiently used in Poland. That’s why she supports actions to go in that direction, as well as for a cleaner electricity generation.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) provides two loans totalling PLN 510 million (some EUR 128 million) to Tauron Polska Energia SA to upgrade electricity generation in South of Poland:

- PLN 300 million (some EUR 76 million) to finance the construction and commissioning of state-of-the-art high-efficiency hard coal-fired combined heat and power (CHP) unit and associated infrastructure in Bielsko-Biala Power Plant

- PLN 210 million (approx. EUR 53 million) to support the construction and operation of a new biomass boiler at Jaworzno III Power Plant

These projects will contribute to a higher efficiency of electricity and heat generation, and an increased usage of renewable energy resources. They will have a beneficial impact on the environment by reducing harmful emissions, and help to meet growing electricity demand in the country as well as local heating needs.

The loan of PLN 300 million will finance the replacement of an inefficient hard coal-fired CHP unit with a unit of a higher efficiency, with a capacity of 50 MWe (electrical) and 182 MWt (thermal). This will contribute to meeting heat and electricity demand at a competitive cost using a domestic source of energy.

The utilisation of the modern state-of-the-art technology with high energy conversion efficiency will minimise the negative environmental impacts of the project. Compared to the unit it replaces, the new CHP plant will have a significantly higher efficiency, approximately 90% vs. 60% for the existing unit. The primary energy savings of the new unit have been estimated at over 25%.

The loan of PLN 210 million will support the construction and operation of a new biomass-fired boiler with a capacity of 50 MWe (electrical) and 45 MWt (that will replace one of the existing coal fired boilers) and the refurbishment of a steam turbine. The electricity will be generated purely on the basis of utilisation of renewable resources.

This is another cleaner energy project financed by the EIB in Poland. Last year the Bank provided co-financing in the area of renewable energy resources of EUR 44.5 million for the contraction of a wind farm in Margonin. In addition, the EIB supported with EUR 50 million the Green Investment Schemes, enabling Poland to invest the proceeds of the sale of carbon emission credits to Spain and UK in greenhouse gas mitigation activities.

Background

The EIB is the long-term lending bank of the European Union. Its main task is to contribute towards the integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion of the EU Member States. Besides supporting projects in the EU Member States, its lending activities also include financing investments in future Member States of the EU and EU partner countries.

The EIB raises substantial volumes of funds on the capital markets, which it lends on favourable terms to projects furthering EU policy objectives. It is the largest supranational borrower and its consistent AAA rating is underpinned by firm shareholder support, a strong capital base, excellent asset quality, conservative risk management and a sound funding strategy.

Cities representatives discuss innovation and R&D in Eindhoven

Mercredi 19 octobre 2011

Cities will meet at the Knowledge Society Forum, to be held on 20-21 October, which will include the “Open Innovation Cruise”.

The event will come in an innovative format, focusing on two main themes:

• An ‘Open Innovation cruise’ through local companies, research institutes and other organisations will showcase local best practices in the development and implementation of ‘open innovation’ policies;

• Horizon2020 - with the support of keynote presentations, a discussion will be initiated on what the current barriers and challenges are for cities to participate in research & innovation programmes and what, from their perspective, needs to change in the future.

In addition, on the second day of the conference, participants will have the opportunity to take part in a project matchmaking session on the Regions of Knowledge / FP7-REGIONS-2012-2013-1 call.

The EU companies are lagging behind

Mardi 18 octobre 2011

According to the 2011 version of the EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, European companies increased their investment in research and development from 6.1% in 2010.

There was a general positive trend in 2010, as global R&D investment increased by 4%, a robust up-turn after the 1.9% drop observed in 2009. The global top 50 in terms of total R&D investment includes 15 EU companies, 18 US firms and 13 from Japan. Two pharmaceutical companies occupied the top spots: Roche from Switzerland (€7.2bn) followed by Pfizer from the US (€7bn). Volkswagen (€6.3bn), in sixth place, is the biggest EU investor in R&D, followed by Nokia (11th with €4.9bn), Daimler (13th with €4.8bn) and Sanofi-Aventis (14th with €4.4bn).

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science said that the upturn in R&D investment by EU companies is a positive signal as the EU seeks to boost growth and jobs through innovation. However, the fact that the EU is still lagging behind some global competitors shows it has to improve conditions for business further, in line with its Innovation Union goals. The EU needs quick adoption and implementation of recent and up-coming European Commission proposals on the unitary patent, on standards, public procurement and risk capital.

US companies did even better than the EU in 2010, with R&D investment increasing by 10% (after a 5.1% decrease in 2009). Companies from some Asian countries continued to show very strong growth in R&D investment levels, including 29.5% for Chinese companies and 20.5% for those from South Korea. The 1400 companies in the Scoreboard employed more than 40 million people in 2010, a 3% increase over 2009. An analysis of the past eight years’ trends shows that employment growth in R&D-intensive sectors is generally higher than in other sectors and less affected by the economic downturn.

More than two thirds of R&D investment of EU Scoreboard companies is from those located in the three biggest Member States, with German companies showing the highest one-year growth (8.1%). This is mostly due to a few automotive companies (Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW). UK companies’ R&D investment growth was 5.8%, close to the EU average, compared to 3.8% for French companies.

In other Member States, a few large players account for high shares of R&D investment growth. These include Novo Nordisk (27.3%) and Vestas (49.8%) in Denmark and Banco Santander (56.3%), Telefonica (16%) and Amadeus (33.2%) in Spain. Fast growing companies such as TomTom (Netherlands) in the electronic equipment sector, Autonomy (UK) and Gameloft (France) in software and Morphosys (Germany) in biotech, are highlighted as success stories showing very good performance in 2010.

Background

The EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard is published annually by the European Commission (DG Research and Innovation and Joint Research Centre) and provides information on the world’s top 1400 companies (400 based in the EU and 1000 from outside) ranked by their investments in R&D. It measures the total value of their global R&D investment, irrespective of the location where the relevant R&D takes place.

Innovation Union is one of the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy for a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. Innovation Union plan aims to make Europe into a world-class science performer and remove obstacles to innovation – like expensive patenting, market fragmentation, slow standard-setting and skills shortages – which currently prevent ideas getting quickly to market. It also seeks to revolutionise the way public and private sectors work together, notably through Innovation Partnerships between the European institutions, national and regional authorities and business.

A greener and more competitive European industry

Mercredi 12 octobre 2011

While reducing carbon emissions, the Committee of Regions (CoR) wants the EU to keep the jobs in the industry.

In October 2010, the European Commission set out a strategy for boosting growth and jobs by maintaining a competitive industrial base in Europe offering well-paid jobs while becoming less carbon intensive.

The CoR opinion on the issue was drafted by Patxi López (ES/PES), President of the Basque country, and was adopted unanimously by elected representatives of local and regional authorities from across the EU. The CoR rapporteur built on the experience of his own region, which underwent a radical transformation after the decline of the traditional steel and shipbuilding industry in the 1970s. With a focus on new technologies, renewable energy and innovation, the Basque country today is more prosperous than ever.

Following the presentation of the European Commission plans, President López urged concrete measures that would give businesses greater flexibility in their employment strategies, in return for adequate protection providing income security for workers in sectors that are likely to be affected by the changes. In addition, he calls for access to credit to be improved and for stronger links between the financial markets and the real economy.

The CoR rapporteur stresses that it is particularly important to protect the intellectual property rights of businesses. It is essential to simplify the procedure for obtaining patents, make it less expensive, and ensure that patents are automatically valid in all Member States, in line with the single European patent proposal.

The CoR opinion also underlines that local and regional authorities are key players in economic development as they are closest to the reality on the ground for businesses. This is especially important for supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, which provide two thirds of Europe’s industry jobs. EU policy should follow the “think small first” principle to deal specifically with the needs of SMEs, and should give a more prominent role to regional and local authorities which provide essential support services to SMEs.