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EuropaBio welcomes the European Commission's proposal for the Seventh
Framework Research Programme that was published, April 2005.
Research and innovation are indeed the main drivers of the Lisbon Agenda,
and a key to economic growth. This is in line with the conclusions of the
recent European Spring Council that identified "Knowledge for growth" as a
major domain for the future of Europe, and the Framework Programme for
Research and Technological Development is one of the most important policy
instruments of the European Commission to support Research and Development.
Biotechnology: red, green and white are present in FP7
Today, we are mainly familiar with the application of modern biotechnology
in medicine and agriculture: the so-called red and green biotechnology. But
there is less general awareness of the white variety: the use of
biotechnology for industrial applications.
EuropaBio and its members very much welcome the themes in the Commission's
proposal. In contrast to FP6, all biotech colours are covered in this FP7
* Red biotechnology in theme 1: health.
The objective of this theme is to improve the health of European citizens
and increase the competitiveness of European health-related industries,
while addressing global health issues. Biotechnology will be of major
importance in developing innovative clinical applications, new vaccines, new
therapies, new medicines for rare diseases, and better diagnostic tools.
* White and green biotechnology in theme 2: food, agriculture and
It is clear that industrial biotechnology is a multidisciplinary area, with
growing interactions to other research areas such as the development of new
crops as renewable feedstocks, bio-energy, new materials (bio-plastics and
bio-fabrics) and sustainable production processes (vitamins, dyes,
detergents and more). Consequently, the best way to introduce industrial
biotechnology within FP7 was to link it to the other applications of
biotechnology with as a main goal: the development of a knowledge-based
bio-economy. Biotechnology will be a key technology in the proposed
activities: "Sustainable production and management of biological resources",
"Farm to fork" (food, health and well being), and "Biotechnology for
sustainable non-food products and processes".
The role of technology platforms.
According to EuropaBio, the FP7 work programmes should be defined by the
Strategic Research Agendas of the European Technology Platforms. "EuropaBio
and its members are involved in several Technology Platforms, such as
"Plants for the Future"; "Industrial Biotechnology" via the Sustainable
Chemistry Technology Platform; "Innovative Medicines"; etc. We are working
hard with the other stakeholders to develop these long term European
research agenda's, and we think this can really boost industry participation
in FP7," says Dirk Carrez, Public Policy Director at EuropaBio and main
coordinator of the Industrial Biotechnology Platform.
Four basic components: cooperation, ideas, people, capacities .
In its proposal, the Commission explains the four 'headings' which the
Commission will focus on in the next Framework Programme: cooperation,
ideas, people and capacity.
The European biotechnology industry welcomes the new strategic aims
developed further in these four basic components, such as support to the
creation of some European Poles of Excellence, the establishment of a
European Research Council to stimulate basic research, initiatives to make
Europe more attractive for researchers, and a better coordination of
national research programmes. "As the biotech industry is characterized by
the presence of more than 1500 innovative SME's, we are very happy with the
specific attention to the development of "regional research driven clusters"
and with the specific support for research for and by SME's and associations
of SME's," says Johan Vanhemelrijck, Secretary-General of EuropaBio. "But
there is an urgent need to simplify procedures and to reduce bureaucracy as
recommended in the Marimon report.".
"I hope and trust that the FP7 will address the recommendations made
regarding industry participation, excellence, speed and simplicity. On top
of this we believe that it is necessary to work further on the coherence of
policies so that we are able to exploit the benefits of biotechnology for
society on the research efforts made" said Mr Feike Sijbesma, chairman of
EU research funding should follow .
EuropaBio asks the Member States and the European Parliament to increase
significantly EU research funding to implement and fully realise this
proposal of the Commission. But simply increasing the budget, without
addressing present failings is not enough. Increased budget must go hand in
hand with the overriding goal of increasing efficiency and effectiveness of
the framework programme, with one major objective: increase the
competitiveness of the industry. It is a fact that industrial participation
in FP6 has declined rather then increased.
Increasing industry participation in the various EU research programmes is a
key element in fostering European competitiveness. The European Framework
Programmes will contribute to European competitiveness if they are
adequately funded and put together with proper operational and management
structures including financial regulations. Only then committed
participation of industry will be successful.
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