On March 7th the EFFECT project, of which Zabala is contributing partner to, organised - in cooperation with the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee and European Commission’s DG CONNECT - a high profile policy workshop aimed at making a wide variety of actors aware of the impact of Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) on the European society of tomorrow. It gathered more than 140 delegates from Member States and Associated Countries, European institutions, academia, industry, research and industrial associations, as well as civil society.
The essence of FET is about supporting, high risk, long term, multidisciplinary and collaborative frontier research, laying the foundations for radically new, next generation technologies which can sustain Europe’s global technological and scientific leadership. Hence, the focus of the discussion was on (1) how to reclaim Europe’s position as the cradle of science-driven technological innovation, and (2) how to secure solid prospects for FET; in the post-H2020 EU research and innovation programme (FP9).
The success of EU collaboration
Thomas Skordas - the European Commission’s Director for "Digital excellence and science infrastructure” said: “I was impressed by the success stories portrayed by the speakers and participants in the event, presenting the importance of the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) scheme, its impact and its contribution to the European Leadership.”
Some of the successful technologies presented included an artificial leaf to make useful fuels directly from sunlight and CO2; robots inspired by animals and plants, brain-controlled artificial limbs; AI-composed music; quantum computing, and more. Moreover, Skordas noted: “FET is not only about exploring radically new technological directions, but also about building capacity for developing them further through the setting of research agendas and the emergence of new interdisciplinary research communities that can pursue them.”
The collaborative spirit and inter-disciplinary approach of FET is often cited as one of the programmes biggest strengths, enabling researchers from all over Europe to make their activities known to new audiences, fostering the exchange of new ideas and enabling new cross-border partnerships.
The event was a good opportunity to present some of the programmes latest facts and figures. A recent study assessed the impact of 224 finished FET projects (FP6 and FP7) and showed that:
- 83% of FET projects are 'radically new': no similar publications could be found in the 5 years before and these publications are highly-cited in multiple disciplines. Industry participated in 33% of research papers.
- 67% of reported results from FET are unexpected, rather than planned.
- In 66% of FET consortia there are new partners and 17% are entirely new.
- 40% of projects had at least one partner from industry and 12% produced a spin-off.
- FET projects let researchers branch into entirely new directions of investigation, often changing their career path.
FET’s future EFFECT?
The popularity and success of the FET programme as displayed during the well-attended event lead to two major conclusions, they are:
- to ensure the continuation of the FET programme with all its complementary schemes (FET Open, FET Proactive, FET Flagships) in FP9;
- guarantee adequate funding for the FET programme, which should be increased to match the high demand of the R&I communities in the programme.
For the final 3 years of Horizon 2020, FET programme will receive funding of around €1,5 billion.
The European Commission is now preparing the next Framework Program, where support the creation of tomorrow's technologies based on excellence and most advanced scientific knowledge is expected to continue. Likewise, you can count on the continued support and expertise at Zabala to help your aspiring FET projects (and not only) achieve the desired effect.