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How technology can help relaunch Europe's economy

(25/11/2008) Europe's biggest Information and Communication Technology event, ICT 2008, opens its door today in Lyon (France). The event will present Europe's priorities for ICT research, development and funding, and will examine how Europe can lead the ICT agenda for the next decade. At a time of financial turmoil, ICT can help to boost the European economy with higher productivity and new high-growth sectors such as the Internet of Things, web-based services, ICT for Energy Efficiency, eHealth and ICT for ageing well. Today Europe is the largest ICT market worldwide, accounting for over 32% of the total, and is the home of leading companies in telecom, business software, ICT-based health equipments and ICT for transport. It also has an ICT sector brimming with thousands of innovative, high growth potential SMEs. Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media and Luc Chatel, French Ministry for Industry and Consumer Affairs as well as leaders from industry including the CEOs of Thales, Alcatel-Lucent and Tom Tom will join visionaries from the world of science and technology to discuss Europe's role in ICT evolution. An exhibition will showcase the breakthroughs from 180 ICT projects.

In the last two years alone, the European Commission has contributed € 2 billion to ICT research projects supporting more than 15 000 of Europe's best researchers and engineers coming from top industrial and academic research and development laboratories in Europe. This will help to repeat the success stories of EU-funded projects in broadband and mobile communications, in micro-electronics and in ICT systems, the results of which are already present in our cars, planes and medical devices.

However in order to establish and maintain its leadership in key ICT areas Europe has to do more in research and innovation in ICT. Current efforts in Research and Development (R&D) are fragmented and investment in ICT R&D in Europe is still 60% smaller than in the US. Greater resources are needed at both EU and national level to address this. For example, opening up the barrier-free Single Market for innovation will make it easier to transform research successes into business opportunities. Europe has the potential to increase its output of innovative ICT products and services by 50% to match the demand of the European market. This in turn could lead to the creation of more than 1.5 million new jobs in the EU.

ICT is one of the areas underpinning Europe's economic performance and is pivotal to its economic growth. At a time when governments face difficult policy decisions to support the real economy worldwide, it is essential to ensure continuous investment in research and development and to make the right policy decisions to accelerate Europe's transition to the digital economy. For instance, as the switch to digital TV frees up frequencies, a coordinated allocation of spectrum will stimulate the creation of new innovative broadband services at no extra cost. Similarly, a more efficient management of civil works by local authorities can speed up Europe's migration to high capacity broadband. The deployment of advanced ICT systems, such as smart metering, smart lighting and e-procurement with the help of the EU's Competitiveness and Innovation Programme can also enhance energy efficiency and cut the red tape in public administrations as well as in businesses.

The public sector also has an important part to play in ensuring that Europeans can make the best use of modern technologies across the society and the economy, for instance thanks to more public-private partnerships via the Joint technology Initiatives that will restore confidence and capitalise on Europe's technology strengths.

The European Commission's ICT event, which opens today in the Centre de Congrès in Lyon, will ask how and where Europe can lead the ICT agenda in the next ten years. The main themes will include the future Internet, how ICT can contribute to energy efficiency, to better ageing and health, to offer new business opportunities for SMEs and how nano-electronics and new chips and components can bring radical changes in our daily lives.

The ICT event also includes 180 exhibits showcasing the latest breakthroughs of European research projects as well as networking sessions for researchers and investors to find partners for potential research initiatives.

Background:

The ICT Event is organised by the European Commission's Directorate General for the Information Society and Media. The 2008 ICT Event will be hosted by the French Presidency of the European Union and will take place in Lyon, Centre de Congrès from 25 to 27 November 2008.

ICT 2008 website