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Joint Technology Initiatives

2011-11-04 - Parliament Magazine

Industrial research is of absolutely prime importance in stimulating growth and Europe's competitiveness on international markets.

The European Commission launched the Joint Technology Initiatives as public-private partnerships, involving industry, the research community and public authorities, to pursue ambitious common research objectives at European level.

JTIs play a central role in furthering EUs economic and social goals.  Bringing together industry, academia and different research centres, JTIs are a new and unique model of public-private partnership. 

JTIs are funded from the European Commission via the 7th Framework Programme; from MS's research funds and, finally, by means of directing funding from industry. 

As for their nature, there are six different JTIs.  These are: Artemis - embedded computing systems; Clean Sky - sustainable Aviation; ENIAC Nano electronics; FCH JU Fuel Cells and Hydrogen; IMI Innovative medicines and GMES Global Monitoring for Environment and Security.

Together, they represent a total investment of €10bn.  With regard to opportunities for the future, JTI instrument might play an important role within the Horizon 2020 landscape.

A particular strength of the JTIs is that they cover the full innovation chain from frontier research to launching products on the market.  Indeed, this is the main impetus of Horizon 2020.  The lessons learned and the information gained from these projects will play a central role in the future design of the Horizon 2020 programme. 

JTIs may ensure a great contribution to Community policies - in particular energy, environment, climate change, transport, health, ICT technologies for sustainable development and economic growth.

As international players such as USA, Japan and China are strongly supporting these technologies, Europe can not afford to miss this opportunity for EU competitiveness.

From 4 to 6 October I had the honour to host a series of events under the scope Innovation in Action. These events consisted on one week exhibition involving five JTIs plus 5 thematic conferences and a press conference. 

Furthermore, the events have represented an opportunity for the representatives of industry, of academia, from the Commission and members of the Parliament to meet and exchange views on the lessons learned and opportunities for the future. 

It was a very successful week. The events had more than 350 participants, very lively discussions and sound conclusions.

The events have also represented an opportunity for the JTIs to show how much has been achieved. JTIs are at a crucial point both in terms of development of their respective technologies as some are now reaching maturity stages but still require more extensive deployment efforts.

Remarkable technological advances were presented, for example, the prototype of a hydrogen-powered car that participants had the opportunity to drive the streets of Brussels. In particular, this is an example of the startling progress that has been made in hydrogen based technologies in order to overcome the societal challenges associated with climate change and energy security.

Much has been achieved but there still exists a number of barriers to the full commercial exploitation of the available technologies. 

A central core of the discussions in the European Parliament was how best to overcome these barriers alongside the discussion of the contribution that Horizon 2020 can make in this respect. 

Continuity on funding is crucial and EU institutions, national and regional governments, industry and research community must strengthen their own activities to jointly define a long lasting strategy for the final stages and roll out of these technologies.

More cooperation is needed between European Union and Members States. The industry sector is asking for a stronger EU commitment while EU politicians ask the same from industry, so there is room for improvement if these interests are properly matched.

An increased budget for the next "Horizon 2020" will affect positively the total JTIs budget but simplification is the basis on which the JTIs must be built. The reduction of the complexity and simplification of the EU research funding landscape should have a positive impact mainly on the stakeholder and success in this domain will, moreover, provide a solid foundation on which the JTIs must be built.

JTIs are a great instrument to boost innovation and research at European level through a crucial involvement of key stakeholders.  JTIs are already demonstrating their potential as a mobilising force for converting aspirations into action, which will contribute to a more dynamic and competitive European industry and economy.