European Commission - Research



Mastery of materials is essential to improve EU competitiveness and fulfil people's aspirations. Great strides have been made in understanding structural materials meeting everyday needs – from buildings and infrastructure to transport. History has been defined in series of materials ages – from the bronze and iron ages to the silicon age dominating the end of the 20th century. Now a much wider range of possibilities is opening up as attention turns to multifunctional materials to improve performance, while conserving resources and caring for the environment.

The importance of leadership in the field of multifunctional materials is reflected in the prominent position accorded to such research within the Commission's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Under the previous FP5, materials research was classified as a 'generic activity', playing a supporting role to key actions in the Competitive and sustainable growth (GROWTH) programme. The advent of FP6 marked a significant change. Materials now represent a major part here in the Thematic Priority 3.


"Identifying Needs in Materials Design for Biomedical Applications" – results of the workshop held in Brussels on 1 February 2010 - 27/05/2010

The workshop gathered 12 distinguished scientists from European academies, clinics and industries, 5 high level experts in legal issues, financing and regulatory affairs and participants from several EU bodies. The main objective was to identify bottlenecks and recommend EU priority actions for the research in materials for biomedical applications with realistic potential for industrial development.

Strategic Critical Raw Materials: the Moment for Research - 04/03/2010

The signature of a Science and Technology (S&T) Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Japan is a step forward in the new strategy for international cooperation in science and technology launched by the European Commission in 2008. The European Community and Japan already cooperate in many projects and international undertakings. The S&T Agreement will further reinforce their cooperation and will provide a framework to establish mechanisms for reciprocal participation in research programmes, exchange of researchers, and coordinated calls for proposals. Read more

Success Story - IMPRESS has become the world-leading project in intermetallic materials and their application ( 584KB) - 11/02/2010

IMPRESS is an acronym for Intermetallic Materials Processing in Relation to Earth and Space Solidification and it is a 41M€ Integrated Project that involves 40 organisations from across Europe and Russia. The 5-year project, under the coordination of the European Space Agency, was selected in 2004 under Priority 3 of the Sixth Framework Programme: Nanotechnologies and nanosciences, knowledgebased multifunctional materials, new production processes and devices - "NMP".

Get your free reflective strap ! - 15/01/2010

The "Value-added Materials" unit has realized reflective straps (340 x 30mm) to be used for fun and safety purposes, i.e. attaching them to wrists, ankles, bags, belts or coiling them around your arm or leg when biking or running. Such straps are popular products also known as reflective armband, reflective bracelet, magic ruler, slap armband ruler, snap bracelets, wrist band, snap band, etc. They give an immediate idea -in a simple way – of how much human intelligence is needed to "create" new materials that have novel properties and serve us better. The straps are made out of steel and normally lie flat due to their curvature along the width, but when tapped lightly against e.g. your arm or leg, they will curl themselves around as if like magic. This property is applied for example in retractable tape measures. The reflective surface consist of tens of thousands of micrometric PVC (polyvinyl chloride) prisms imprinted on the plastic surface: they collectively retro-reflect light, similar to the retro-reflectors used on road vehicles, thus improving your visibility. The European Commission wraps show (right side) a "firework" picture of a zirconium oxide with possible applications in ink-jet printing, as a courtesy from UNINOVA-CEMOP Centre ( together with the logo (left side) of the 7th Framework Programme for European Research (

If you are interested in receiving straps for free, please send an email to

Research on novel and improved materials for water technologies - 11/12/2009
One of the major challenges of our future is the provision of safe drinking water for a growing population. The shortages in water resources will require the availability of more efficient and cheap materials and industrial technologies.

Report on Workshop on Methodologies for Research Road Mapping and Infrastructures in Materials Science and Technology, 9 and 10 December 2008, Brussels - 17/09/2009

Success stories

Successes in Science : High-tech textiles for a material world - 22/07/2009
The European research project Polytect is working on the multifunctional textiles of the future. These materials are intended to protect structures during – or after – earthquakes, landslides and other natural disasters. With sensors built-in, they will be able to see, hear and smell trouble before it happens.

Useful links

European Industrial ResearchIssue 4[1]: A material approach (PDF)

Growth in action: Special issue on new materials (PDF)