In the face of an ageing population and strong competition from Asia, the future prosperity of the EU is becoming increasingly dependant on the ability to exploit the regions considerable research and development talent.
Manufacturing is increasingly being outsourced to developing markets where labour is cheaper which leaves European companies under pressure to remain relevant and necessary. Increasingly this means focusing on invention rather than production.
However, staying ahead of the competition requires increased investment which is currently lacking. ICT research in Europe stands at just E80 per capita, compared with E350 in the US and E400 in Japan.
To discover exactly how the European Commission intends to promote the development and use of new technology in Europe, ZDNet UK spoke with the EC's director of emerging technologies and infrastructures, Ulf Dahlsten.
Q: What do you see as the key emerging technologies over the next five years and what policy priorities have you set out to support them?
Overall you find them in multidisciplinary approaches where researchers are bringing together developments in intelligence, complexity and new materials: [these are] all areas that can build upon existing European strengths. Examples would be nanoelectronics, neuroinformatics, complex autonomous systems, quantum computing and advanced robotics.
We thus find them in areas where technology convergence is taking place and the new i2010 strategy to boost the digital economy, which the Commission launched in June, takes full account of the reality of convergence as a technological challenge, a regulatory test and source of growth.
Our first set of priorities here will be to adapt European rules to convergence in order to create a "single European information space". In particular the Commission aims to modernise the rules on European audiovisual content and to give content producers greater legal certainty by putting these rules into a single market framework.
We will be reviewing the regulatory framework for electronic communications to see how well our current rules are performing and whether they will equip us adequately for the next generation of high bandwidth services. We will also work on interoperability and security, because as these services become multi-platform, and ever more widely used, a safe, secure and seamless Web will become a priority.
Our second set of priorities concern enhancing the role of information and communication technology (ICT) as a motor of growth in Europe. In Europe, ICT accounts for 25 percent of economic growth and 40 percent of productivity increases. In other countries, such...