Orgalime, an association of European engineering industries, has called for an ambitious next Framework Programme (FP9), refocussing on European engineering to attract further research and investment into the sector.
Orgalime calls for collaborative research to continue, with the drive toward digitisation extending into production technologies. The three pillars of the current Framework Programme (Horizon 2020) - Excellent Science, Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEIT) and Societal Challenges - are considered appropriate by the authors. However, Orgalime calls for the LEIT pillar to remain independent but be strengthened in order to create a real strategic vision for European manufacturing. They also suggest that industries’ role in the Societal Challenges pillar ought to be bolstered, along with universities, who supply much of the engineering sector’s human capital.
The authors hold the principle of excellence as key to Europe becoming a more competitive research bloc. Furthermore, they call on member states to meet the Lisbon Strategy’s goal of 3 per cent of GDP going towards research and innovation.
Orgalime suggests that FP9 should focus on the areas of highest European added value, such as funding consortia or public-private partnerships; it should leave the funding of small and medium size enterprises at the national level. They recommend research infrastructure funding to be extended to facilities closer to the market in order to encourage the testing of potential solutions. For such funding — and funding from FP9 in general — they consider grants preferable to loans. However, for the more mature innovations, flexible funding could be used, depending on the level of risk. In reporting on the impact of projects, the authors stress the need to take into account the inherent uncertainty of bringing an innovation to market
From the text: “Massive European R&D investment, both private and public, notably in applied research is one of the key answers to keep up with global competition.”