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EU research funding for industry

The Malta Federation of Industry (FOI) and the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) last Wednesday held a well-attended seminar on EU Research Funding for Industry.

Framework Programme 7 (FP7) is the key financial tool for supporting research and innovation at the European level to integrate Europe's research capacities, creating jobs and improving competitiveness in line with the Lisbon Agenda. The seminar aimed to promote more qualitative and effective participation in FP7 on industry's behalf.

The two themes discussed were 'Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies (NMP)' and 'Research for the benefit of SMEs'. Jonathan C. Borg, National Contact Point (NCP) for NanoMatPro, from the University of Malta, explained the core objective of the first. Dr Borg stressed the importance of improving the competitiveness of European industry, and generating the knowledge needed to transform it from a resource-intensive to a knowledge-intensive industry.

Martina Daly, policy officer at the European Commission Directorate-General Research, discussed specific measures for SMEs under the FP7, giving an overview of the calls issued specifically for SMEs, with an outline of the calls in the pipeline for SME associations and groupings, as well as upcoming calls which would be focusing on training.

Jeanelle Catania, NCP for Research for the Benefit of SMEs at the FOI, stressed that the programme will help SMEs outsource research, increase their research efforts, extend their networks, better exploit research results and acquire technological know how, bridging the gap between research and innovation.

Due to the feedback received during the seminar, the FOI plans to create a mechanism that would foster SME's participation in EU funded programmes. The scheme will go beyond FOI's task as NCP of information exchange, but will take a bottom-up approach through delivery of individual services to better target particular SMEs research, ideas or problems.

Organisations who register to this scheme would be guided in matching their objectives with the appropriate EU funding programme, design appropriate and attractive company profiles, assistance in the proposal writing and project negotiations, and will be linked with counterpart organisations.

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