Brussels' research commissioner Philippe Busquin has also announced that he wants the programme to be funded with c2bn for nano-technologies and intelligent materials and c2.3bn for the anticipation of the EU's scientific and technological needs.
Companies must be part of a consortium involving partners from other EU member states, which can be other companies or academic research teams. They will be allowed to patent and exploit any discoveries or inventions commercially that result from funded studies.
The proposals are likely to be heavily scrutinised before a decision is taken later this year.
This was first published in March 2001