The European Commission has initiated negotiations to sign research contracts worth EUR 324 million with 108 successful space and security research consortia. They represent strategic domains for the EU’s competitiveness and contribute to the implementation of a range of policy objectives, including the fights against terrorism and climate change, and the furthering of sustainable development, industrial renewal, economic recovery, leading to the implementation of the 2020 strategy.
As a global actor and major space power, the EU relies on space and security research for strong border protection and enhanced environmental monitoring. Therefore funds also support the continued development of Europe’s Global Monitoring system for Environment and Security (GMES).
European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: “In a time of crisis, strategic investments are essential for sustainable future growth. Security is a pre-requisite for business, and space is full of endless possibilities. This type of research is at the heart of the industrial renewal that Europe needs. It demonstrates the added value of European investments in high-end technology for innovation, and as a means to dealing more effectively with the major challenges that confront us.”
In cooperation with the Research Executive Agency (REA), 108 successful project proposals have been short-listed from amongst 732 proposals received in the third of six planned calls for proposals under the Space and Security themes of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7). They comprise 68 space and 40 security research projects: EUR 114 million for the FP7 space theme, and EUR 210 million for the FP7 security theme.
In the space domain, the short-listed Earth observation projects include support for the EU’s efforts to fight climate change by monitoring deforestation in Africa, whilst in the area of space exploration, research is set to improve the accuracy and robustness of spacecraft when landing on other planets. International cooperation has increased in space research, in particular with the United States, with American Universities and Research Centres, and major public research institutions such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) participating in a total of 15 proposals. The space domain also sees a high participation rate of 20 percent of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), compared to the FP7 average of 16 percent SME participation.
In the security domain, the short-listed projects include two large demonstration projects targeted at urban mass transportation and maritime border security, alongside projects furthering exchange of information to fight organised crime, mitigation of chemical, biological radiological and nuclear threats, and actions against money laundering, and counterfeit medicines. International cooperation is also strong in security research, with 40 project proposals bringing with them a total of 550 partners from 36 countries.
Throughout FP7 (2007-2013), EUR 1.4 billion and EUR 1.35 billion have been reserved for space and security research, respectively. With the third call, the number of space research projects is set to rise to 114, and the number of security projects to reach 130.
In July 2010, the European Commission foresees the publishing of the fourth FP7 space and security calls for proposals. Reflecting the political importance given to strategic R&D investment, a positive funding trend is anticipated.
Source: Eurasia Review