The funding of Virtual Institutes was initiated in 2001 under the FP5 Growth Programme. Some 17 projects are now being supported.
The aim of Virtual Institutes is to improve the interaction between industry and research and to facilitate the transfer of technology and research results, in particular to SMEs, for quick exploitation. Using the latest information and communications technologies to ensure effective transnational networking, they are meant to become self-funding after the period of EU support.
Virtual Institutes have been described as a pilot instrument and, while none of the projects have been completed, the Union has been gathering valuable experience in their creation. A recently completed working document prepared by the Research Directorate General presents answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) on Virtual Institutes. For more, see the link below.