Information about the EU’s 7th Research Program|
"Basic research will have new funding"
On 23 May 2006 Euresearch Zurich, the joint agency of the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich for European research programs (1), issued information about the EU’s Seventh Research Framework Program (FP7) (2) which is to be funded with a budget of 54 billion EUR. The event’s presenter, Sofia Karakostas, explained to ETH Life what researchers can expect.
Interview: Christoph Meier
What are the most important innovations in the Seventh Framework Program?
Sofia Karakostas: A simpler structure has been created. There are four main components: "Cooperation", "Ideas", "People" and "Capacities". This will allow potential clients to find their way around quicker. The authors of the program created a revolution with the “Ideas” component by explicitly supporting fundamental research for the first time under this keyword. Another innovation is that the new Framework Program is designed to cover seven years instead of four, which of course increases the total budget and Switzerland’s contribution.
What is the significance of FP7 for ETH researchers?
The funding of basic research certainly benefits this Institute as well. Another special feature is that research relating to “Security and Space” is funded for the first time under the component “Cooperation”, which stands for the promotion of trans-frontier collaborations. That is interesting for the ETH security researchers.
Information and communications technology will get the most financial support. Does Switzerland profit specifically there, since it had already participated more than proportionally in this area in FP6?
ETH had its largest participation in this area in the Sixth Framework Program and will probably take part as a strong player in many of the corresponding projects. However, Zurich as a research location might also be represented more than proportionally with its strong life sciences.
What is the significance of the European technology platforms in the Framework Program?
These networks that have been established between industry and the scientific world will not be supported by funds in the Framework Program. However, they provide ideas as to the regions in which research should be promoted by the EU. In addition, research projects that might receive funding within the 7th Framework Program come into being on these platforms.
The Swiss Parliament has not yet approved the Association Agreement for FP7. What would be the significance of its rejection at the end of this year?
That would be a catastrophe. The Swiss would no longer have access to many parts of the program. For example all the "People" projects, whose purpose is to promote individuals, would be lost. In addition researchers in this country would no longer be able to lead projects, which would be a pity especially for ETH. There is a large potential for project co-ordination at ETH. Probably it would be associated with a smaller return flow of funds. The situation at present is that 100 percent of Switzerland’s contribution to the 6th Framework Program returns as support funding. In future, with good submissions, there is even a chance of achieving more than 100 percent.
Before saying No, one should also note that a return to the status of participation in individual projects for the EU scarcely represents an option, since Association is part of the bilateral Contracts 1.
Are there already any wishes for a possible follow-up FP8 program?
Requested improvements were already implemented from the sixth to the seventh. Among other things, the policy of supporting only major projects, some of them with 40 to 60 project partners was abandoned, and instead increasing numbers of small ones with 5 to 15 participants are being promoted again. Thus the only remaining wish is that there will again be a further framework program.
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