IT missing from Europe's R&D priorities

IT is not among Europe's research and innovation priorities, which are climate change, energy and resource efficiency, health and ageing, European commissioner for research, innovation and science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said today.

IT is not among Europe's research and innovation priorities, which are climate change, energy and resource efficiency, health and ageing, European commissioner for research, innovation and science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said today.

Outlining the new research and innovation priorities for European technology platforms in Brussels, Geoghegan-Quinn said the commission planned to restore economic growth by creating "a smarter, greener and more inclusive economy delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion".

The new strategy would be ready in September for EU member country leaders to sign off at the autumn European Council.

"Research and innovation are riding high in the political agenda - a sign of their growing importance for our economy and society," she said.

This appeared to put Geoghegan-Quinn at odds with European Commission vice-president for the Digital Agenda for Europe, Neelie Kroes, who last week welcomed proposals from the European Parliament that all EU citizens should have access to broadband internet by 2013, be able to use their mobile phones as a mobile wallet and have access to all public services on-line by 2015.

Kroes promised to include these goals in the fourth communication on the Digital Agenda, which is one of the keystones of Europe 2020, the Commission's new economic strategy for Europe.

Geoghegan-Quinn said the R&I strategy would focus on the major societal challenges facing Europe and the world - climate change, energy and resource efficiency, health and ageing. These were the top priorities for policy-makers and offered huge commercial opportunities, she said.

Geoghegan-Quinn said the strategy would lead to agreement on an EU patent. "Enough is enough - let's finally finish the job," she said, referring to years of fruitless talk on the subject.

The strategy would also make researchers' pensions and social security benefits transferable between countries, making it easier for staff to relocate, she said. "The circulation of brain power is good for us all."

It would also find better ways to use the public procurement process to stimulate innovation.

The strategy would also aim to avoid duplication of effort at national level, ensuring researchers had the best tools, materials and funding, she added.

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