EC plans more funding for tech research

The Commission calls for a large increase in tech R&D funding over the next decade, and has reiterated its call for a single European patent system
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The European Commission wants Europe to double its investment in technology research and development, targeting particular areas such as nanotechnology, web services and what it calls "the Future Internet".

The Commission itself will boost its annual funding from a planned €1.1bn (£1bn) in 2010 to €1.7bn in 2013, it said in a statement on Friday. It wants member states to match that increase at a national level, using new financing and money diverted from other sources. 

"For decades to come, ICT will underpin the competitiveness of our economy, the efficiency of our public services and our quality of life," information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding said in the statement. "Europe represents the largest share of the world's ICT market. Our economic performance and jobs depend on these technologies."

Reding said Europe needed to double both private and public investments in ICT research by 2020 if it wanted to "be ambitious and take the lead".

According to the Commission, Europe represents a third of the global ICT market, but "the value produced … by the EU's ICT sector amounts to only 23 percent of the total". In its statement, the Commission again attacked the fragmentation of EU-based R&D. In November, Reding said it was not normal that the EU has no university in the global top-20 ranking for engineering and computer science.

The Commission on Friday also reiterated its desire for a system where inventions would get a single patent that would apply across the European Community. It argued that the European intellectual-property system would be improved by helping technology companies protect their inventions in the single market.

The idea of an European Community-wide patent system was last raised in July 2008, when the Commission laid out its intellectual-property strategy. That strategy noted that "large numbers of overlapping patent rights can create additional barriers to commercialise new technologies that already exist in 'patent thickets'". It called for higher-quality patent rights to avoid the problems with "patent trolls" that it said have arisen in the US judicial system.

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