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image European Research News Centre > European Research Policy > The story of a successful collaboration
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image image image Date published: 07/11/02
  image The story of a successful collaboration
RTD info special
"EU enlargement"
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By opening EU research programmes to institutes and companies in the applicant countries, the Commission has promoted a valuable exchange of knowledge and expertise in the period before they become Member States. Starting with a few key priorities in the Fourth Framework Programme (FP4), Newly Associated States (NAS) partners are now involved in all major thematic programmes of FP5. Case studies from both FP4 and FP5 illustrate the depth and breadth of expertise to be found in the applicant countries.

   
     
   

Assessing industrial risk

Inspection and maintenance of industrial procedures are vital to prevent damage to safety, health, the environment or economic activity. The RIMAP project seeks a European risk-based best practice for inspection and maintenance in petrochemicals, chemicals, steel and power, which could also apply to other industries. Part of FP5's Growth Programme, RIMAP has an RTD phase, a demonstration phase and a new thematic network involving NAS members. Phase 1 will examine present inspection and maintenance planning in the four industrial sectors, and define a common framework. Practical plans for each industry, and maybe a European standard, should follow.

The demonstration phase will test the RTD results, and the thematic network will collect, analyse and disseminate information. The NAS will contribute their own experiences of industrial practices, and RIMAP will help them restructure their practices towards accession. Network coordinator Professor Alexander Jovanovic, of Stuttgart University, feels that input from the NAS will enable adaptation of technologies without the constraints of western infrastructure. "Our technology," he says, "will become more robust and more applicable worldwide by building on the experience of the NAS."

Modern freight, ancient streets

Bestufs, a thematic network in the Growth Programme, links freight transport user groups, national, regional and local administrations, urban transport experts and interested cities. The original project team from three EU countries and Switzerland has been joined by Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. "The aim," says network coordinator Dieter Wild from PTV Planung Transport Verkehr in Stuttgart, "is to bridge the gap between national information and the use which could be made of it by other countries. It is an extremely good example of how an existing project can gain value for existing members by bringing in new partners from the candidate countries, and also offer a great deal to the new ones."

Bestufs focuses on themes such as the impact of tolls on road users, how e-commerce and night deliveries are affecting goods transport, and ways of reducing congestion and pollution. The information gathered is being analysed by a steering committee whose recommendations will be disseminated via workshops, conferences, newsletters and the internet.

Insider information

When selecting fresh fruit or vegetables, the customer is most interested in the quality of the inside flesh, which is not visible and has proved difficult to assess in a consistent manner. To help solve this problem, the NIQAT project, part of FP5's Quality of Life Programme, is developing near infra-red spectroscopy methods to determine the quality inside fruit and vegetables. Used with a photometric camera, the method can detect internal blemishes or diseased areas, alongside factors such as maturity and flavour development. NIQAT, coordinated by the Canning Research Institute of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, has partners in Finland and the UK.

Food-borne diseases

Another food-related project, Novacsal, concentrated on one of the most serious sources of food-poisoning: salmonella infection. The three-year project in FP4's FAIR programme has been completed by experts from animal health research institutes in the Czech Republic and Hungary working with five EU Member States. It built on the observation that oral inoculation of young chickens with wild-type salmonella or live, attenuated vaccines resulted in intestinal colonisation and resistance to other salmonella strains. Studies in inoculated pigs had demonstrated development of a similar non-specific immunity, their intestines showing none of the damage suffered by non-inoculated pigs following salmonella infection.

Novacsal studied the mechanisms involved in generating immunity, both at a theoretical level and as a practical means for salmonella control, including an assessment of how effective inoculation would be under field conditions in preventing infection by a highly virulent salmonella strain.

Protecting Europe's cultural heritage

The candidate countries, with their rich cultural history, are playing a key and growing role in protecting Europe's heritage from environmental degradation. Three partner organisations from these countries took part in FP4, 29 contributed to FP5 and even more are expected to participate in FP6.

Two projects from very different research programmes are currently contributing valuable knowledge to the preservation of Europe's cultural heritage:

• Arcchip is the first centre of excellence for cultural heritage in Eastern Europe, and is part of FP5's INCO-2 programme. Based in the Czech Republic's Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Arcchip is a centre for the study of state-of-the-art techniques for protecting cultural heritage, gathering the latest information and promoting the exchange of best practice. By June 2002 it had organised 12 workshops on key aspects of conservation. Each event establishes a core network of experts for future studies. Milos Drdácky, Arcchip coordinator, feels that the project's major contribution has been to bring together participants from 50 to 60 countries at these workshops: "The Arcchip centre of excellence programme was intended to support the dissemination of results rather than research itself, although the networks it established have helped create new research projects."

• Enviart, an FP4 project, was finalised in 1998 and focused on the restoration of artificial or stucco marble which consists of gypsum mixed with natural glues and pigments, laid down and polished. The technique was perfected around 1700 and became an important feature of baroque church and palace architecture in central and southern Europe. But changes in humidity and temperature, along with the leaching and crystallisation of minerals, has resulted in serious deterioration. Enviart studied weathering damage to the stucco marble of the Dukes' Chapel in Krzeszow, Poland. Scientists from three Polish institutes worked alongside experts from Germany, Austria and Belgium to define the factors involved and to develop restoration methods.


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Secure information technologies

Nastec, a two-year project in the FP5 Information Society Technology (IST) Programme, has been set up to build confidence and trust in the application of electronic networks in e-commerce, e-administration and teleworking. It will also contribute to the use of EU technology and services by helping the uptake of common European standards for authentication and secure transmissions. The project links partners in Slovenia, Poland and Romania with EU Member States Germany and Italy.

Nastec will establish a public key infrastructure with certification and registration rules. This will guarantee the security of basic services including messaging by signed and encrypted mails, anti-spamming devices, and secure data transactions. Further work could include the validation of electronic transactions, on-line administration services and, most importantly, dissemination and training aimed at NAS professional organisations, industry and business.

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Dukes Chapel in Krzeszow before and after restoration work. Telc: the ARCHHIP centre of excellence has research units in this World Heritage City and in Prague.

Dukes Chapel in Krzeszow before and after restoration work. Telc: the ARCHHIP centre of excellence has research units in this World Heritage City and in Prague.

 


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