Azara Blog: EU Seventh Framework Programme is launched

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Date published: 2007/02/07

The BBC says:

Europe has begun rolling out its new research and development initiative - the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

FP7 will see more than 7bn euros (£4.6bn) a year handed to investigators to advance scientific knowledge and, by extension, boost the EU's economy.

It runs until 2013 and amounts to a significant jump in investment over previous community programmes.
A little over 40% of the EU's expenditure is currently reserved for agriculture but an increasing proportion (5.3% last year) is committed to research.
The money is structured under themed headings and directed into priority research areas, such as information and communication technology (9bn euros), health (6bn euros), transport (4bn euros) and the fast-emerging nanotechnology sector (3bn euros).

The intention is that this money acts as an innovation growth factor, bringing on the next-generation high-value services and products that keep Europe at the forefront of world markets.
The downside in the past for any would-be Euro-scientist - as all who have gone through an application for funding will testify - has been the "legendry bureaucracy". The paperwork demands put off many, particularly from small enterprises.

The European Commission has promised a more streamlined process for FP7. There is also a commitment to pay more of the total costs of a research project, so a university or other research institution is not forced to "steal" from its other activities to sustain work through to completion.
At present the EU spends about 2% of its GDP on research and development, significantly less than the US (2.8%) and Japan (over 3%).

Some emerging Asian countries, such as China, are now increasing their R&D investment to a rate where they will soon catch and overtake Europe.

FP5 and especially FP6 were ridiculously bureaucratic, and the people that ended up with the money tend to be the usual suspects. It's unlikely to be the case that FP7 will be any different. The fact that the EU will be spending eight times as much on farming as on research says it all. And a lot of the budget will not go to research but to bureaucracy. It would be interesting to know how much of the previous FP budgets actually ended up doing any good, and whether it is value for money, but that is unlikely ever to be known. Still, the bottom line is that more and more UK research positions are dependent on EU money, and FP7 is better than a kick in the teeth.

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