Geoghegan-Quinn: Research Needs Less Red Tape, More Intl. Collaboration
In her first speach to the European Parliament, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the newly appointed Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, discussed a number of points raised by MEPs regarding EU-funded research.
To show her commitment to research, innovation and science, and her desire to see them improved, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn suggested raising expenditure in science research to 3% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the EU. The commissioner also wants to improve SMEs' access to investment. She suggested creating a task force to improve cooperation between SMEs and the European Central Bank’s investment arm.
Once a research project is complete, the accessibility of its results to the wider industry is a vital aspect of knowledge sharing. MEPs raised issues surrounding accessing patents and the high cost of intellectual property rights (IPR) following a complete project. Ms Geoghegan-Quinn promised to improve affordability and access to a European patent programme.
Many private companies (and particularly SMEs) that wish to take part in the framework programme feel hindered by the bureaucracy involved in EU funding. Ms Geoghegan-Quinn believes streamlining the application process will encourage more companies to take part. 'We cannot compromise sound financial management – but we can simplify,' she says. 'If we have fewer rules, we have fewer errors..."
Lack of researchers
It is believed that the EU lacks sufficient numbers of researchers to carry out research projects. 'We have to put in place a climate to encourage researchers to come into the system with ease,' suggests Ms Geoghegan-Quinn. 'We need to build up the infrastructure but we also need to build up capacities.'
Support for all
Ms Geoghegan-Quinn believes the research budget must support both large and small projects alike, as well as those projects focused on subjects that are not profitable. She supports making research calls more focused on SMEs and stressed the importance of performing research in any form.
The new commissioner is keen to ensure no opportunity for research is missed. Collaboration across all Member States is therefore crucial. She wants to create a unified research area to allow and encourage smaller Member States to come forward and perform research.
Source: SME Techweb, as accessed on March 22, 2010.