Europe launches £2bn nanotech push

A well-funded partnership between European governments, the EU, industry and academia will set up its offices in Brussels within months
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The European Commission has officially launched a €3bn (£2.3bn) public-private partnership aimed at the development of nanotechnology.

The European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council — abbreviated as ENIAC but not to be confused with the seminal computer built in the 1940s — is a "joint technology initiative" (JTI) that has been endorsed by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. The new organisation will be fully operational, boasting its own staff and premises in Brussels, "within the next few months", the Commission said in a statement on Friday.

The Commission first set up the concept of JTIs at the end of 2006, when it announced a €9bn (£6.8bn) funding injection, over seven years, into ICT research in Europe. JTIs are essentially partnerships between national governments, the EU, industry and academia, set up in order to co-ordinate ideas and project funding.

"Today, it is the smallest technologies that are taking the largest leaps forward, and our industries must do the same", said the EU commissioner for information society and media, Viviane Reding, on Friday. "The possibilities offered by nanoelectronics are only limited by our imagination. They underpin all aspects of everyday devices and so concern everyone in Europe. ENIAC, which has a budget of €3bn over 10 years, is a concrete way to ensure that such a key industrial sector continues its strong economic growth, right here in Europe."

In its announcement, the Commission said the boost for the nanoelectronics industry would help the technology "largely supersede the current generation of microelectronic devices" within the 10-year funding period. The EU hopes nanoelectronics will, for example, help improve car safety by improving computer-controlled engines, while reducing emissions.

Also on Friday, the Commission announced the launch of a second JTI, Artemis, which is targeting embedded computing systems in much the same way ENIAC is aimed at nanotechnology.

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