22 November 2006

Comments on EU Research Funding Policy

It isn't often I read comments on EU research funding policy on the web, this post by Haydn Shaughnessy of "What Will You See Next?" has piqued my interest: Future of the Internet, it comments on an event in Brussels on 15th December Information Day.

The idea of the EU Technology Platforms (EUTPs), such as NESSI and eMobility that are mentioned, and NEM, ARTEMIS and Photonics 21 that are not, is that industrial entities based in the EU (including multinationals with a base here), with a minor role for associated academic groups, can help to set part of the strategic research agenda (SRA) for future investment in research by the EU - the world's biggest publicly funded research programme. The Commission doesn't directly control these EUTPs, so if they fail to come up with a sensible research agenda, it is fault of the EU industrial sector for either not being able or not being willing to do this job!

Of course, with respects to the next generation of the Internet, one problem for us in Europe is that the epicentre of the industrial strength of the existing software industry, the Internet and the Web lies in the USA, with perhaps SAP being the only EU success in modern software!

Instead, in Europe we have a strong solutions provider marketplace with companies like Siemens and ATOS Origin (who are present in these EUTPs). It is argued that Siemens employ more software developers than anyone else in Europe.

Of course, in contrast, the big EU success has been GSM and the mobile industry including the equipment vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia and Siemens and the operators (Telefonica, Vodafone, and so on). The EU Commission often argues that the research and development investment in earlier framework programmes (especially in ACTS in FP4) helped make GSM the success it is today.

As these two worlds merge into the converged communications environment, where all these Internet, telephone and multimedia services run over TCP/IP (and I would argue should run over IPv6) it will be interesting to see how the EU research community engages with these challenges.

As we speak the EU is launching the Framework 6 Programme in Helsinki (as Finland currently has the Presidency of the EU) at the IST Event 2006. The next 7 years of the research programme will have to deliver on some of the promises of convergence, of of European technological leadership to justify the investment in R&D that has been and will be made.

As the Irish group with the most EU FP6 IST funding (more than any other university or company) the TSSG has a strong delegation at the IST Event, and is engaged in a number of the EUTPs, and is helping shape the strategic research agenda in other areas such as security (c.f. the recent invitation-only high level EU-US Security Summit hosted in Dublin organised by us on 15th and 16th November 2006). So we're certainly trying our best to make sure that the EU does get things right, and that Ireland plays a part in this.

Posted by mofoghlu at November 22, 2006 2:20 PM