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image European Research News Centre > European Research Policy > International co-operation to the fore
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image image image Date published: 07/11/02
  image International co-operation to the fore
RTD info special
"EU enlargement"
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Innovation Relay Centres - a valuable asset

UAB Technologija, based in Kaunas, Lithuania, is one of several spin-off SMEs from the Kaunas University of Technology (KUT). Having developed ultra-hard, wear resistant surface coatings for-load bearing metallic components and commercialised the new products in their domestic market, the firm asked the Lithuanian IRC to help find international partners. DG Enterprise's 68 Innovation Relay Centres (IRCs), which span 30 countries including EU Member States and the Newly Associated Countries, specialise in European innovation and introducing regional SMEs to technological opportunities.

"Lithuania is a very small country, so markets are naturally very limited. If technology-based SMEs are to grow - or even survive - they must be internationally orientated," explains Eigirdas Zemaitis, a project consultant for IRC Lithuania. "International cooperation is a necessity, not an option."

The first step was to carry out a technology audit before helping the SME to prepare advertising and promotional material and send a technology offer across the network via the IRC database.

The technology was presented during the international 'Baltic Dynamics' exhibition and conference on innovation, in Latvia, which was devoted to the improvement of business environments for innovative companies in the Baltic Sea Region. There, UAB Technologija was introduced to the Latvian metal processing firm, Liepajas Metalurgs which recognised immediately the potential cost savings using this new technology. Some months later a commercial and technical assistance agreement has been signed and UAB scientists have trained their Latvian partner's technicians to use the new technology.

Further information:
IRC Lithuania
Science and Technology Park
ircLT@ktl.mii.lt
http://www.lic.lt

JRC action on enlargement

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), which provides scientific support to EU policy-making, has opened up its activities to scientists and organisations from the accession countries since 1999. Some 60 organisations are participating in around 40 shared-cost projects with the JRC. And, since early 2002, researchers from the accession countries have had the opportunity to work directly for the JRC. Communications initiatives are also being undertaken to inform scientists in the accession countries about the JRC.

Set up in 2000, the JRC Enlargement Action comprises 18 projects supporting the extension and implementation of EU policies in the accession countries. Among the areas covered are environment, for example supporting implementation of EU policies on air quality, emissions and toxic-waste management; nuclear safety, including safety assessment methods and combating illegal trafficking in nuclear materials; food safety testing; agriculture monitoring; and harmonisation of chemical measurement.

Likewise, the JRC's Futures foresight project now covers the accession countries, helping policy-makers respond to the challenges of socio-economic change.

Further information: http://www.jrc.ec.europa.eu/enlargement/index.htm

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