Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Commercial exploitation of ICT research can make a difference in our lives

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We asked 18 finished EC-funded projects in the field of micro-nanosystems and nanoelectronics - all of which had created patent applications - what they have done with the results of their project.

--- Posted by Willy Van Puymbroeck, DG CONNECT, Head of unit: Components

Sometimes it might be hard to grasp the real-life effects of the technical ICT research projects that the EU funds. This can especially be the case with projects in areas like micro-nanosystems and nanoelectronics. To get a better idea we asked 18 of our already finished projects that had created patent applications within the EU's Seventh Framework Programme - FP7 -, what they have done with the results of their project.

Many answers we got from the project partners were exhilarating, some were less so and some said that the results will still take time to be exploited. What we did learn was that there are many partners - mostly small and medium-sized enterprises - that already have market activities based on the results of these projects. This was a very promising result since the projects that we looked at had only been finished for a maximum of about two years.

To mention a few examples these projects had worked with automotive electronics in order to reduce CO2 emissions for cars – Athenis -; with biomedicine in order to decrease the toxicity of cancer treatments by better steering the drug delivery -Nanoma -; with holographic 3D displays of the future - Real 3D -; as well as with extending the capabilities of memory cards used in our smart phones and computers -Gossamer.

What we learned when looking at the finished projects was that there are still things that can be done better to push for innovation activities. One simple method is to emphasise commercial exploitation of results form early on during the projects and not just as an after-thought in the final reporting period.

Innovation is the driving force of our economy and to tackle societal challenges we need to look beyond the projects' ending dates and the patent applications. Together we must push for results that actually make it to the markets and help improve our everyday lives and the competitiveness of the European economy, just as these fine examples of projects had done.

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