RTD-NEWS--- Tekes, Finland's technology agency, has
called for the introduction of an entirely new thematic
priority in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)
for EU research: 'R&D as a tool to renew strong
In a position paper
on FP7, Tekes states that it finds 'most current FP6
priorities and themes important and relevant to European
R&D [research and development] collaboration.
However, new viewpoints and orientations are needed
in order to ensure the competitiveness of European
R&D in the future.'
For that reason, Tekes'
list of proposed thematic priorities largely resembles
that in place in FP6, minus the current 'citizens
and governance' priority, and with the addition of
both 'safety and security' and the priority on industry.
The proposal to introduce
a priority specifically for industry was formed following
a national exercise to develop a roadmap for technological
development in Finland, explained Petri Peltonen,
Executive Director of International Networks at Tekes.
One of the outcomes
of this exercise was that while it is of course important
to develop new technologies, it is also important
to ensure that existing industries constantly update
themselves through technological means, Mr Peltonen
told CORDIS News. Globalisation has meant that every
industry must increase both its productivity and its
value added if it is to compete internationally.
While it is often
the case that lobbying for certain thematic priorities
to be included in the EU programmes is driven by national
or sectoral interests, a focus on reviving current
industries through R&D would benefit every EU
Member State, each of which is facing challenges in
certain industrial sectors.
'We have a strong
national innovation policy and Europe needs a strong
European innovation system. They must be complementary,
not overlapping; strengthening competitiveness at
a European level,' said Mr Peltonen.
There are clearly
provisions for industry in the initial proposals for
the next framework programme, and in particular proposals
on Technology Initiatives and Technology Platforms.
While these are an 'important new concept that address
the needs of some industries', Mr Peltonen has a personal
concern that they are leaving gaps in those industrial
sectors where no platform has been formed.
In the past Finland
has done very well in the framework programmes, having
been a net recipient from the programme for many years.
And unlike other countries, Finland has managed to
maintain its level of industrial participation during
FP6. The Tekes position paper shows, however, that
the country is taking nothing for granted.
Finland's main successes
have been in the field of information society technologies.
The position paper emphasises the importance of continuity
between FP6 and FP7 in this field, and suggests that
all the strategic objectives from the major FP6 calls
should be continued in FP7. In addition, Tekes would
like to see the inclusion of what it considers to
be 'strategically important topics'. These include:
cross-cutting research; network access and safety;
e-inclusion; sophisticated approaches to e-commerce;
seamless communications; robotics and embedded energy
In the field of 'life
sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health',
Tekes proposes deepening the priority's topics in
order to meet current research needs. Systems biology,
bioprocess technology and 'biotechnology meets information
technology' should all be included in FP7, believes
The agency's proposals
for the thematic priority 'nanotechnology, new materials
and processes' would see it extended to address wood-related
chemistry; new materials for welfare and electronics;
bioprocesses; nanostructured soft materials; nanobiomaterials
and device integration; and new processes for the
purification of nanoscale objects.
'Space and aviation'
is Tekes' fourth priority, followed by 'food quality
and safety', which, the paper states, should focus
on four key areas: food and health; food safety; bioprocesses;
and active packaging.
Tekes believes that
too little emphasis was placed on environmental technologies
in FP6, and the agency's priority for this field is
thus entitled: 'sustainable energy and environmental
technologies (non-nuclear)'. The paper outlines a
need for more research to be supported in areas such
as technologies to increase energy efficiency; new
'green' innovative products and processes; water supply
and sanitation technologies; and mitigation technologies
for traffic-related environmental impacts such as
pollution and noise.
The Commission has
proposed supporting security research as a specific
priority for the first time in FP7. The move is welcomed
by Tekes, although the agency would like to see the
concept broadened to include the safety of the living
environment, dependability, and risk management in
global businesses. 'This viewpoint arises from Tekes'
strategy, which takes into consideration the safety
of society as a whole. It includes not only citizens
and the public sector but European companies as well,
which currently face great challenges in a globalised
and interlinked world,' states the paper.
Mr Peltonen was in
Brussels on 3 March to present the Tekes paper to
representatives from both the Commission's Research
DG and its Enterprise and Industry DG. Its main points
were well received, he believes, although only time
will tell whether they are taken into account by the
Commission when outlining its vision of FP7. The Commission
proposal is scheduled for publication at the beginning
For further information
on Tekes, please visit: