UK bridging the gap between science and industry

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  • POLICY

    EC moves will benefit European materials research Policy proposals by the European Commission should, if ratified by the European Union and its parliament, bene- fit materials research. A E17.5bn research and innovation program put forward by research commissioner Philippe Busquin to the European Union Stockholm summit in March would make further progress towards the European Research Area, a concept for collaborative research excellence endorsed at the

    previous Lisbon summit. Material science features among seven key priority areas identified by Busquin in his strategy proposal. Nanotechnotogy, aeronautics and space will include a materials element and repre- sent a 'reinforce success' strategy to build on Europe's existing strengths in these sec- tors. Other focuses include biotechnology and genomics, food safety, information tech- nology and sustainable resources.

    "In this new program I am put- ting forward proposals to develop the key technologies for the future and for our uni- versities and research centers to better strengthen Europe's science base," syas Busquin. Special measures are proposed for promoting innovation, mobility of research personnel, networking of national and European initiatives, and the integration of smell-to-medium-enterprises. A particular thrust will be to help industry translate the

    results of research into new investment and jobs. Issues such as intellectual property rights, access to risk capital and finding partners in other EU states would be addressed. Integrated projects and networks of excellence would be established to maximize cross-fertilization of ideas, avoid duplication and achieve better overall management. Contact Stephen Gosden, Information and Communications Unit, e-mail: stephen.gosden@cec.eu.int

    UK bridging the gap between science and industry The UK may have an excellent track record in scientific research and innovation, but it is a common complaint that it has not always been success- ful in turning that expertise into commercial success. Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Stephen Byers, has promised 140 million to bridge the gap between science and industry. "Knowledge transfer, from laboratory to production line, is fundamental to my vision for the future economy," says Byers. "This 140 million represents core funding to help make practical use of good ideas. It should encourage effective interac- tion between higher education and business. We need to link our creativity to knowledge transfer so that we all benefit." The 140 million,

    administered as the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEtF) promises to triple exist- ing funding levels. In line with a February 2001 White Paper on Enterprise, Skills and Innovation, Byere also announced that HEIF will become a permanent funding mechanism. "Universities must be able to undertake research that could have massive economic bene- fit to society as a whole, but finance is not always easy to obtain," said Byers. "HEIF can be part of a continuing stream of funding to help meet this vital technological challenge."

    Contact:

    Harcus DeVi[le, Department of Trade and Industry tel: +44 (0)20 7215 6403; e-malt: marcus.devil[e@dti.gsi.gov.uk

    National Science Foundation makes budget request of $4.47 billion for 2002 The National Science Foundation's {NSF) announced budget request of $4.47 billion for the next fiscal year represents a $56 million (I .3%) increase over 2001. The request highlights, among other initiatives, four multidisci- plinary priority areas: - biocomplexity in the environment, - nanoscale science and engineering, - information technology research, and -learning for the 21et century. These priority areas were iden- tiffed in previous requests, but will continue to be a particular focus. Nanoscale science and engineering will benefit from the highest requested increase of 16% increase to $174m in 2002. Fundamental research in

    this area will focus on biosys- tems, novel structures and phe- nomena, device and system architecture, environmental processes as well as modelling and simulation. The over-reach- ing "grand challenges" to be met are creating materials by design and manufacturing. While average success rates across the board of around 30% - and half that in "hot" areas such as nanotachnology - can seem discouraging, the promise of greater funding does hold more promise. NSF's request also includes $25.6m earmarked for new science and technology cen- ters and $170m for salaries and expenses - representing a 6% increase over 2001.

    Contact Tom Cooley, NSF e-mail: tcoo[ey@nsf.gov

    18 ~ May/June 2001