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Research on Information and Communication Technologies

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Wednesday, 03 August 2005

Research on Information and Communication Technologies

Commission to invest € 1 billion into Research on Information and Communication Technologies
The Commission is about to launch 276 new research projects in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) with €1 billion in EU funding. This is the result of the fourth Information Society Technology Call for Proposals under the EU’s Sixth Research Framework Programme. This EU contribution is one of the largest totals awarded as the result of a single Call for Proposals in the history of EU research.
“Investment into research in Information and Communication Technologies is our best-bet contribution to growth and jobs”, said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “However, Europe continues to under-invest considerably into ICT research for lack of sufficient resources both at EU level and at national level. Today, half the ICT research projects proposed for EU funding have had to be turned down, despite meeting all the requisite quality criteria. If Europe wants to be part of the game of global competition for better ICT services, we need to step up our resources considerably.”
Over 1,300 proposals were submitted in response to the 4th Information Society Technology Call for Proposals under the EU’s Sixth Research Framework Programme. 462 proposals met the quality criteria, of which 276 were retained. The selected projects aim in particular to achieve industrial and societal breakthroughs in fields that are of strategic importance to Europe, and where it has recognised strengths. They include micro- and nano-electronics, mobile communications and broadband technology for accessing the internet. In broadband, research funding has been an incentive for European equipment manufacturers to make, over the past years, internet access in Europe faster and cheaper, thanks to optical fibre network technology (see IP/05/722) and low-cost Advanced Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) access modems.
In the coming five years, the Commission will also support new fields with high potential for industrial and commercial breakthroughs, such as
- cognitive systems that can sense and interpret real-world events and help humans deal with them;
- improvements in the security and dependability of information and communication technology systems;
- new applications that will affect our lives in health, transport, content creation, and in government administrations and services.
The new Call for Proposals allocates €162 million of research spending on ICT to small and medium-sized enterprises, which account for 20% of all participating organisations, and €70 million to specific projects partnering research organisations from the new Member States and from the EU 15 in areas like eGovernment, eHealth, eLearning or eBusiness.
The administrative decision empowering the Commission to begin negotiations with project consortia was signed last week. The first contracts will be signed with research consortia in the autumn.