Main differences between FP5 and previous research framework programmes:
The Fifth RTD Framework Programme differed considerably from its predecessors. It was conceived to help solve problems and to respond to major socio-economic challenges facing Europe. To maximise its impact, it focused on a limited number of research areas combining technological, industrial, economic, social and cultural aspects. Management procedures were streamlined with an emphasis on simplifying procedures and systematically involving key players in research.
A major innovation of the Fifth Framework Programme was the concept of "Key actions". Implemented within each of the four thematic programmes, "Key actions" were conceived to mobilise the wide range of scientific and technological disciplines - both fundamental and applied - required to address a specific problem so as to overcome barriers that may exist, not only between disciplines but also between the programmes and the organisations concerned.
In order to meet the challenges of the transition to a "knowledge-based society", the Fifth Framework Programme was different from its predecessors in terms of both content and operation. The intention was to concentrate research on current socio-economic problems, i.e. research with the potential to accomplish the changes expected by the general public. Therefore, the EU's Fifth Framework Programme for research and technological development intended to make a substantial contribution by helping:
- companies get to grips with the knowledge and expertise - increasingly technological in nature - necessary to face up to the challenges presented by the new millennium and increasing globalisation;
- European society use technical progress to find innovative solutions to the major problems which confront it, such as employment, health, environment, energy supply, transport and mobility, education and training;
- Europe's citizens enjoy a high quality of life, and providing the conditions that can ensure their personal and material development.
Consequently, FP5 was structured with four Thematic Programmes (each with Key Actions and Generic Activities) and three Horizontal Programmes
- Quality of life and management of living resources
- User-friendly information society
- Competitive and sustainable growth
- Energy, environment and sustainable development
- Confirming the international role of Community research
- Promotion of innovation and encouragement of SME participation
- Improving human research potential and the socio-economic knowledge base
Health Research has been mainly covered by the Thematic Programme: Quality of life (QoL) and management of living resources
The programme was primarily built around six specific key actions that were goal-oriented and problem solving. In addition, the generic activities of the programme aimed to build up through RTD the knowledge base in identified areas of strategic importance for the future. Within the QoL Programme, the term "research infrastructures" referred to facilities and resources that provide essential services to the research community in the life sciences.
Research and technological Development Activities of a generic Nature
These activities aimed to reinforce the knowledge base in chosen areas of strategic but generic importance for the Life Sciences related to humans, animals (both terrestrial and aquatic) and plants. This was in contrast to the mission oriented problem solving approach in the Key Actions, which placed the emphasis on the linkage between discovery and exploitation.
Projects had been encouraged that promote interaction between basic and applied research and that involve both the research and health sectors in order to ensure maximum transfer of knowledge between research and its users, including industry. The networking of projects will also be promoted in order to create a critical mass for optimum exploitation of results.
The generic research activities are:
7. Chronic and Degenerative Diseases, Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and rare Diseases
8. Research into Genomes and Diseases of Genetic Origin
10. Public-health and Health-services Research (including drug-related problems)
11. Research relating to Persons with Disabilities
13. Socio-economic Aspects of Life Sciences and Technologies
Support for Research Infrastructures
The objectives of the Programme in supporting research infrastructures were:
(i) to encourage the optimum use of Europe's research infrastructures, notably by fostering transnational cooperation in their rational and cost-effective use and development and, in conjunction with the QoL system of Marie Curie Fellowships, by broadening access to these infrastructures particularly for young researchers;
(ii) to improve the European-wide consistency and complementarity of these infrastructures and their competitiveness at world level; and
(iii) to help improve the quality and user-orientation of services offered to the European research community. The role of the Programme's activities in support for research infrastructures is to add value at the European level in the context that the construction and operation of research infrastructures is the responsibility of national authorities.
This particular action of the QoL Programme was intended to support research infrastructures in the following fields: biological collections, biological information resources, clinical research facilities, pre-clinical research facilities, facilities for aquaculture and fishery research.