Articles taggés avec ‘research’

European Commission launches its program for Earth observation

Mercredi 30 novembre 2011

The Commission has proposed a budget outside the financial framework of the EU of 5.8 billion euros for GMES

The Commission proposes to set up a specific GMES fund similar to the model chosen for the European Development Fund, with financial contributions from all 27 EU Member States based on their gross national income (GNI). This will require an intergovernmental agreement between the EU Member States meeting within the Council. The programme will be coordinated by the Commission and its financial management could be delegated to the Global Navigation Satellite System Agency (GSA).

Background
GMES – The European tool to contribute to security, fight against climate change and to boost competitiveness

With its “Sentinel” satellites GMES provides information which allows a better understanding of how and in what way our planet may be changing while monitoring the state of the environment on land, at sea and in the atmosphere. Mitigating climate change, responding to emergencies, insuring a better border control, improving the security and alerting citizens if air quality gets bad are activities that depend on precise and timely information on our Earth. GMES is delivering the necessary data, including maps for emergency operations, monitoring of climate change parameters, of ocean and sea temperature or chemical composition of the atmosphere. GMES is also relevant for improving security for citizens, such as border surveillance and fight against piracy and organised crime.

According to a cost benefit analysis, GMES is expected to deliver benefits worth at least twice the costs of investments for the period up to 2020 and four times the costs up to 2030. It represents a huge potential for economic growth and job creation with the development of innovative services and commercial applications in the downstream sector.

The European dimension of GMES leads to economies of scale, facilitates common investment in large infrastructures, fosters coordination of efforts and observation networks, enables harmonisation and inter-calibration of data, and provides the necessary impetus for the emergence of world-class centres of excellence in Europe.

Harmonisation and standardisation of the geospatial information at EU level is a major challenge for the implementation of a wide range of Union policies. Many areas of environmental concern – such as climate change mitigation and adaptation policies – require thinking globally and acting locally. With GMES, the EU is ensuring its autonomous access to reliable, traceable and sustainable information on environment and security, contributes through the GEOSS international initiative (Global Earth Observation System of Systems) to build global observational datasets and information and increases its influence in international negotiations and treaties such as the three Rio Conventions, the post-Kyoto Treaty, and other bilateral or multilateral agreements. GMES is recognised as the European contribution to building the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, developed within the framework of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

The Commission indicated that given the limits of the EU budget, it was proposed to fund GMES over 2014-2020 outside the multi-annual financial framework. Nevertheless, the Commission is still committed to ensuring the success of GMES, and in this context, today’s communication will launch the debate with the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions on the future of the GMES programme.

The European Union is testing a new system of electricity distribution

Mercredi 30 novembre 2011

With a boost of funding to the tune of EUR 12.7 million under the ‘Energy’ Theme of the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the EcoGrid (A Prototype for European Smart Grids) project brings together 16 european project partners.

As producing 20% of our energy from renewables and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% are key priorities of the EU’s Europe 2020 strategy, projects like these help to make these flagship political objectives a reality.

The EcoGrid project will run a pilot real-time market place for distributed energy resources on the Danish island of Bornholm by asking 2,000 electricity customers to reduce their power consumption when the wind is either too weak or too strong for the wind turbines on the island to work. In return they will be able to reduce their electricity bill with the help of an intelligent power system known as a ‘Smart Grid’.

The participants will be equipped with residential demand-response devices that present real-time information to consumers and allow them to pre-programme their automatic demand-response preferences.

At the moment on the island, 50% of electricity comes from wind power.

Senior researcher Ove Grande from the coordinating institution SINTEF Energy Research in Norway comments: ‘When a country develops a high capacity to produce solar and wind power, the usual assumption is that system operators will need backup sources that can quickly be switched on when the wind does not obey the weather forecast or when clouds unexpectedly shade solar cells. And back-up sources of supply to meet acute power-matching needs are expensive.’

Normally these problems are solved by using gas turbines or importing power from other regions or countries. Ove Grande hopes that their project results will show that another approach to this problem is possible.

‘In the system to be demonstrated on Bornholm it is the consumers who will solve the problem, by cutting back some of their electricity consumption for short periods. This is far cheaper than giving them reserve power, and is also more environmentally friendly. And because it is cheaper, it will raise the limits of how much solar and wind power an electricity grid can actually rely on.’

A Smart Grid works in an automated manner and disconnects an agreed proportion of each customer’s consumption when electricity prices are high. The same system allows customers to raise their consumption when prices are low.

The project participants will have new electricity meters installed in their homes that differ from current meters by breaking down when electricity is being used as well as total power consumption. The project will develop a computer system that automatically calculates the price of electricity for customers on the basis of the situation in the generation and distribution system. This price should always reflect what it would cost to generate reserve power in the same periods.

The system will continuously communicate these prices to a little smart box that will be installed in the customers’ homes along with the meters. When necessary, the box will switch electrical appliances on or off, depending on the customer’s prior assessment of what is an acceptable electricity price for different types of consumption.

After the project the researchers will be able to assess how the participants found the system using their feedback.

A step towards the European Patent

Mercredi 23 novembre 2011

Parliament help the introduction of this patent which will improve the competitiveness

The European Parliament’s rapporteurs, who will negotiate with national governments, will treat the three proposals (unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court) as a package, meaning none will be agreed without the others. According to the mandate, approved by the committee with 16 votes in favour and 3 against, the MEP negotiators will also ask that the three laws to enter into force at the same time.

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 committee endorsed the Commission proposal, and in particular a provision allowing inventors from countries currently outside the procedure to apply for an EU patent.

Rapporteur Bernhard Rapkay (S&D, DE) will strive to amend the text so as to introduce specific provisions 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.

Raffaele Baldassarre (EPP, IT), rapporteur for this second regulation, will also ask for a special provisions for small firms, including a special reimbursement and an easier access to patent protection.

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.

Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, DE), rapporteur for the last piece of the package, will seek to ensure that the litigation system is efficient, by giving it a decentralised structure, clear procedural rules and judges selected for their competence.

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.

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.

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.

Cooperation between the EU and China is diversifying

Lundi 24 octobre 2011

Despite the crisis affecting many economies, trade between the EU and China are going well. The two blocks are about to intensify their cooperation in developing education, culture, youth and research.

The European Union and China are preparing to take their co-operation to a new level on issues relating to education, culture, youth, research and multilingualism. Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, is in Beijing to finalise plans for the launch of a “people-to-people” dialogue covering these areas. Its aim is to deepen understanding and mutual trust by supporting exchanges between the two strategic partners. Commissioner Vassiliou will meet her counterpart in the Chinese administration, State Councillor Liu Yandong, to pave the way for the new framework for cooperation, which will be officially launched before the end of the year. During her visit, the Commissioner will also hold talks with Minister of Culture, Cai Wu, and the Vice Minister of Education, Hao Ping, as well as presiding at three major events - the closing ceremony of the EU-China Year of Youth ‘Future Camp’ (24 October), the opening of the EU Film Festival (26 October) and the second EU-China High-Level Culture Forum (27 October), where cultural implications of urbanisation will be discussed.

The new EU-China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue will represent a ‘third pillar’ in relations between the two partners, building on two previous cooperation agreements - the High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (’first pillar’) and the High-Level Strategic Dialogue (’second pillar’). The people-to-people dialogue will enjoy the same status as the other agreements and will have flexible structure with very low financial implications. Its first formal meeting will take place in 2012.

Concrete ‘deliverables’ already planned include the establishment of an EU-China Higher Education Council and joint scholarship schemes aimed at encouraging opportunities for EU and Chinese students and teachers to study in each other’s territories. The two partners will also develop a joint strategy and programme for the 2012 EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue, which also aims to contribute to better understanding and dialogue. Background

EU-China cooperation on education, training, culture, research, youth and multilingualism has rapidly developed over the past decade.

More than 2000 Chinese students have benefitted from Erasmus Mundus grants to study in the EU, with 200 EU students going to China.

In addition, around 550 Chinese researchers have received funding for research work abroad through the EU’s Marie Curie Actions since 2007, some working on large scale international projects (worth a total of €314 million) and others involved in smaller schemes (worth €3.8 million). More than 60 Chinese universities participate in EU exchanges.

The Chinese government offers support to EU primary and secondary school educators and students who want to learn Chinese through the China-EU Language Exchange Project. A new joint EU-China scholarship scheme will soon be launched to ensure more balance and reciprocity in the numbers of exchanges.

In recent years EU-China Schools of Business, Law and Renewable Energy have been launched with EU funding support. The EU-China International Business School (CEIBS), established in Shanghai in the mid-1990s, has received €33 million and is ranked among the global top 30 by the Financial Times.

2011 EU-China Year of Youth

The Year included seven jointly organised flagship events which took place in China and in the EU, as well as the European Youth Week in Brussels in May, the Youth Forum on Sustainable Development in Beijing and Xi’an in July, the EU-China Youth Forum on participation in Shenzhen in August and the EU-China “Volunteer Bridge” in Brussels in September. Hundreds of European and Chinese youth representatives participated in these 23 projects involving youth organisations from the EU and China started and received more than € 2 million funding in total from the Youth in Action Programme. These projects involved 33 Chinese organisations, 14 cities and 7 provinces. Altogether, hundreds of projects, events, activities and other initiatives received the Year’s label.

EU Film Festival

Commissioner Vassiliou will open the festival on 26 October ahead of the screening of the Polish thriller Tricks, directed by Jan Hryniak. In total, 26 films from 24 EU Member States will be screened during the festival.

Those already confirmed include: Die unabsichtliche Entführung der Frau Elfriede Ott ((The unintentional kidnapping of Elfriede Ott - Austria), Les Barons (Belgium), Svetat E Golyam I Spasenie Debne Otvsyakade (The World Is Big And Salvation Lurks Around The Corner - Bulgaria), Apo Thavma (By Miracle - Cyprus), Kuky Se Vrací (Kooky – Czech Republic), Kærestesorger (Aching Hearts - Denmark), Kormoranid Ehk Nahkpükse Ei Pesta (Farts Of Fury - Estonia), Maata Meren Alla (Overseas And Under Your Skin - Finland), Des Hommes Et Des Dieux (Of Gods And Men - France), L’Accordeur (The Piano Tuner - France), Krabat (Germany), O 7os Ilios Tou Erota (The 7th Sun Of Love - Greece), Puskás (Hungary), His & Hers (Ireland), 20 sigarette (20 Cigarettes - Italy), Duburys (Vortex - Lithuania), Schemer (Dusk - Netherlands), A bela e o paparazzo (Beauty and the Paparazzo - Portugal), A Drogaria (The Drugstore - Portugal), Pokoj v dusi (Soul at peace – Slovak Republic), Piran Pirano (Slovenia), Camino (Spain), Miss Kicki (Sweden), Music For One Apartment And Six Drummers (Sweden). The UK and Malta will also screen films.

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 Polish Presidency proposes solutions to overcome the crisis

Mardi 18 octobre 2011

In its report “European consensus for growth,” the Polish Presidency presented suggestions to get Europe out of the crisis.

Deputy Prime Minister Pawlak stated that the report drafted by the Polish Presidency showed the areas the EU should improve in order to step up economic growth. He said that the EU should first and foremost become concerned about the growth of innovativeness, and that would be served by adopting uniform patent protection throughout the Community. He added that at present, obtaining a patent for an invention in the European Union costs as much as €32,000, whilst in the USA it is about €2,000. The introduction of a single EU patent would considerably lower those costs even to as little as €680.

In his view, efforts must be launched by the Member States to take full advantage of the internal market’s potential if the EU economy is to become more flexible, competitive and productive. He argued that building an efficiently functioning, digital single market would make it possible to generate an additional four percent GDP by 2020. He added that similarly, by implementing the Services Directive the EU could obtain a GDP growth of even up to 1.5 percent. On the other hand, by lowering roaming fees, including data transmission, we would acquire greater mobility and trans-border activity. That would facilitate finding employment and conducting business activities.
He also called attention to the need to liberalise Europe’s service market and develop its transport, energy and tele-information infrastructure. In Deputy Prime Minister Pawlak’s opinion, also needed are concrete efforts enabling the development of the latent potential of human capital. In the report the Polish presidency refers to designating increased resources for programmes fostering the mobility of students, young scientists and employees, such as Erasmus or Marie Curie. The EU should also increase the professional activation of women. Bridging the gender gap on the labour market can increase the GDP in the euro area even by as much as 13 percent.

He recalled that up till now the time for overcoming the crisis has been devoted by the EU mainly to restoring stable public finances and reforming economic governance. He stressed that thanks to the efforts of the Hungarian and Polish Presidencies and active cooperation with the European Parliament, on 4th October the EU Council endorsed a packet of six legal acts bolstering economic governance in the EU. Their implementation will ensure the stabilisation of the economic environment in which entrepreneurs and citizens function. Mr Pawlak emphasised that confidence and social dialogue at the national and European levels will help elaborate and implement common solutions which will strengthen the EU after the crisis and rebuild citizens’ trust.

Prime Minister Pawlak said that we have agreed with our partners from Denmark and Cyprus that during their Presidency of the European Union Council the topic of “sources of economic growth for the EU” would remain a priority.

The Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment was set up on 6th March 2003 to enhance the involvement of social partners in implementing the Lisbon Strategy, now the “Europe 2020” strategy. Since spring 2003 meetings have been regularly called ahead of the spring and autumn sessions of the European Council.

The hosts of the Tripartite Social Summit are the Presidency, European Commission and the President of the European Council. Also attending the meetings are the prime ministers of three successive presidencies together with their ministers in charge of employment as well as the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities and representatives of leading European employees’ and employers’ organisations. Poland has taken part in two summits — during the Belgian Presidency (28th October 2010) and the Hungarian Presidency (24th March 2011).

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.