While this is expected to significantly increase the fund flow for life sciences, attention has also been paid to augmenting the funding volume for small and medium enterprises in order to enhance knowledge transfer partnerships. As Europe strives to achieve global competency in the areas of life science, these initiatives could prove instrumental in building a competitive, knowledge-based economy in the near future.
In reinforcing its commitment to the European research sector, the EC has added two new instruments under its FP6 programme. The main advantage that FP6 carries over the earlier frameworks is that there are a multitude of differentiated areas that can be implemented using these proposed instruments.
Integrated projects aim at generating the knowledge required to implement priority themes and thus help in increasing Europe’s prowess in the global life sciences arena. Under these projects, research activities address the whole research spectrum from basic to applied research and will bring together the necessary critical mass of activities, expertise, and resources to achieve objective-driven research. On the other hand, networks of excellence are aimed at amalgamating and coordinating the various activities of network partners, thereby creating virtual centres of excellence.
In addressing the fragmentation in European life sciences research funding, there is a clear strategy being devised towards incorporating a European Research Council (ERC). Although this organisation will truly be pan-European, it may not seem overly attractive to some regional governments as it may bring in the need to adopt several complementary approaches and also result in projects being accorded a non-essential priority at the national level. However, respondent feedback suggests that the ERC should be able to channel funds more efficiently into new fast developing research areas.
While in the UK genomics, proteomics, and systems biology initiatives are the main thematic priorities in the current life sciences budget, disease genomics is garnering a major volume of the total genomic funding in Germany. In France, public research bodies carry out most of the research in collaboration with universities and other institutes and the concept of genopole and genhomme networks have been a great interface.
The average spending on life sciences under the Framework 6 Programme in 2003 was worth about E761.0million, and accounted for 67.4 per cent of the total European life sciences funding expenditure for that year.
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