European Union IT research is failing


European Union IT research is failing

Antony Savvas

A high-level European Commission assessment panel says European Union research into information society technologies (IST) is failing, despite it spending almost £700m a year on the area.

The panel said the research was vital for competitiveness but that it more investment and less bureaucracy are required for success.

The panel was chaired by former Portuguese science minister Jose Mariano Gago, who was one of the authors of the European Commission’s 10-year Lisbon Strategy, which aims to make the EU the “world’s most dynamic and competitive economy”.

Viviane Reding, European Commission information society and media commissioner, said, “Fast-changing IST research is, and must remain, a key driver for the rapid economy-wide technological innovation on which Europe’s skilled jobs ultimately depend.”

She said, “I intend to respond very quickly to the panel’s concerns about red tape, which is a general problem of EU research programmes, but felt most directly in IST research where we operate in a particularly dynamic and fast evolving environment.”

The Commission had asked the panel to assess the effectiveness and achievements of IST research and development under EU research programmes for the period of 1999-2003.

The EU spends more than €1bn (£697m) per year on IST research and development.

The key recommendations of the panel are:

  • Increase research funding to drive collaboration between firms and academia
  • Reduce bureaucracy which is threatening to kill research
  • Step up the involvement of small- and medium-sized enterprises, and new member states
  • Improve communications and target them by audience to broaden take-up of research results
  • Assess the need for additional human resources in IST research in Europe.

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