way in which Community research immediately adds value lies in the
number and quality of the links which it establishes and maintains
between research teams in the Union. In 1998 some 28 000 new
participations lent added strength to this European research area.
The 21 000 participations in shared-cost action alone created almost
90 000 collaborative links for researchers in the European Union,
83 % of which were transnational links.
May 1998 the Commission published an analysis of the contribution
made by Community RTD policy to cohesion in the Union.15
This highlighted the big increase in aid from the Structural Funds
for RTD and how it has concentrated on the less favoured regions.
Between 1994 and 1999 this aid for RTD totalled ECU 8.5 billion;
over 90% was for regional objectives (objectives 1, 2, 5b and 6)
and 60% for the Objective 1 regions alone. Although still not enough,
this significantly narrowed the technology gap in terms of research
effort and, in particular, private-sector research.
To make further progress, the communication recommends the development of integrated regional RTD and innovation strategies focusing on three priorities:
In the process, the Commission drew on the pilot projects launched by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDE) and on the "regional innovation and technology transfer strategies and infrastructures" established by the Framework Programme in the context of the Innovation programme.
- Promoting innovation;
- Networking and industrial cooperation;
- Srengthening human capabilities.
More broadly, the entire Framework Programme will contribute to implementation of these regional strategies. Geographical analysis of the RTD projects started in 1998 confirms that the Framework Programme is helping the less favoured regions to catch up, as their rate of participation in Community research remains proportionally higher than their research potential (see graph below).
The Training and Mobility of Researchers programme plays an important role in this respect, in the form of specific aid such as the return grants for young researchers from the less favoured regions. In the 5th Framework Programme these measures are supplemented by the Marie Curie development host fellowships for young researchers to work in research centres in the less favoured regions.
Finally, for the
5th Framework Programme, space on the CORDIS Internet site has been
reserved to allow Member States and regions to publicise their RTD
potential and their participation in Community research. Scotland
and the Mid-West of Ireland are amongst the less favoured regions
already participating: http://cordis.europa.eu/regions/home.html
RATE OF PARTICIPATION OF LESS FAVOURED (OBJECTIVE 1) REGIONS
IN EUROPEAN RTD EFFORT (1) ...
...AND IN THE RTD FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME
15- Reinforcing cohesion and competitiveness through research, technological development and innovation, Communication from the Commission, COM(1998)275, 27 May 1998 (http://cordis.europa.eu/cohesion/home.html).