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A research assistant like no other - 14/01/2008

Still from "the Lord of the Rings"

To stimulate competitiveness in Europe, the EU is encouraging public private research partnerships and creating two new agencies to provide researchers with as much support as possible.

What do "Casino Royale", "The Da Vinci Code" "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "Batman begins", "King Kong", "Superman returns" and "X-Men 3"  have in common? They all feature state-of-the-art special effects created using the Oscar-winning Furnace software developed by four European specialists. But it would never have been possible without funding from the EU's FP7 research framework programme and particularly the Marie Curie actions, geared towards ensuring better training and greater ease of mobility for researchers throughout their career.

On 14 January, the Furnace team joined key players from the public and private sector to discuss partnerships between business and universities at a conference in Brussels on the Marie Curie actions. Realising how crucial such partnerships are for Europe's competetiveness, the Commission has just launched a new call for proposals.

It has also just set up the research executive agency to manage various aspects of the PF7, including Marie Curie grants, research to benefit small businesses and some space and security-related activities. To make sure researchers get the first-class support they deserve, another new agency, the European research council executive agency, will be responsible for implementing the FP7's Ideas programme to stimulate exploratory research.

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