Increasing transparency in EU funding
Transparency and knowledge-sharing took another huge step forward with the recent completion of the 'Life Competence' database. This distinctive project has opened up all 680 EU-funded projects within FP6 Life Science and Health to public viewing. This not only serves to increase transparency of EU funding but also increases the visibility of all partners involved in projects, opening them up to further partnerships. All in all, the projects presented represent EUR 2.4 billion in EU funding.
For the very first time, thanks to the'Life Competence' database, a truly holistic picture of EU funding from between 2001-2006 under the Sixth European Research Framework Programme (FP6) in Health Research is now possible.
The database allows an unprecedented amount of transparency into the EU-funded projects and the institutions that carry out the projects. According to a recent statistic published by Eurobarometer, 70% of Europeans expressed an interest in health research. This database goes a long way therefore in satiating their needs.
Another important aspect is that it also contributes to European competetiveness and knowledge sharing. By including all projects funded and their participants, it becomes a one-stop-shop for companies, academic institutions and NGOs to find out what is occuring and who is involved. If something sparks their interest, they can then contact those involved.
This links in with the EU's objective of supporting competitiveness by increasing the opportunities for linkages between academia and clinicians with industry, and especially with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As it currently stands, a majority of partners in the programme are academic. If their research is to be transformed into commerciable results, industry needs to be involved. This database goes someway to achieving this objective.
The 'Life Competence' database has been implemented by AVEDAS AG, Germany, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden and EuropaBio, Belgium and covers all health research projects funded under FP6. The budget was divided between a number of diverse research areas. Approximately 50% of the projects and budget was dedicated to disease-oriented research areas.
A total of 123 projects were completely dedicated to cancer research, making it by far the area which received the most support. Statistically they made up 18% of all projects and 22% of the budget, which translates into EUR 539 million. Other research areas included AIDS/HIV, stem cell research, diabetes, diagnostics, vaccines and drug design.
The database also allows visitors to view how funding is being allocated and how the EU’s international cooperation goals are being met. Under FP6, approximately 6% of partners came from the 12 new EU Member States while a further 7% of partners came from the states associated to the EU with science and technology cooperation agreements that involved contributing to the framework programme budget.
Looking further afield, 5% of partners in health projects came from countries outside Europe and its associated states. These mainly came from China, Russia, the US and South Africa. The databse has an easy-to-use menu and search system that allows users to choose what they want to search for, ranging from broad searches in International Cooperation, or according to thematic area or more specifically, where they can search for a specific topic.