Europe has announced its intention to become a world leader in high-risk IT research with plans for mind-controlled wheelchairs, computers that mimic the brain, and unlimited computing power.
The European Commission thinks the region needs to catch up with Japan, China and the US by increasing its investment in technology.
It has pledged to increase its investment in IT - currently standing at 100m Euros a year - by 70% by 2013.
It said, "With more investment and cooperation in high-risk research on future information technologies, Europe can lead the way in turning bright research ideas into future technologies."
It is calling on its 27 member states to follow its lead, saying the potential technological breakthroughs could bring "enormous opportunities" for Europe.
"Europe must be inventive and bold - especially in times of crisis. Research seeds innovation which is key for Europe's long-term global competitiveness," said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media.
The commission says Europe lags behind other regions. It says although the EU produces almost one third of the world's scientific knowledge, research in this sector accounts for only a quarter of its overall research effort.
The commission has also launched the first ever European Future Technologies Conference in Prague.
Examples of European future research include:
- A thought-navigated wheelchair that interprets brain signals to move, helping the 300,000 people in Europe disabled from a spinal cord injury and other novel neural implants for handicapped people.
- Computer technology that copies the way the brain processes information so that it can continue to work even when parts of its hardware fail.
- More secure computers that can function faster than light speed and process unlimited amounts of information thanks to the first breakthrough of quantum technology research - a domain where Europe is already a leading player.