European research funding at crossroads as new programme developed

Next generation of EU funding could be altered to the detriment of economically valuable sectors

A|D|S today (Friday) submits its response to the European Commission Green Paper consultation on a common strategic framework (CSF) for EU research and innovation funding.  The consultation period closes today.

The UK aerospace, defence and security industry believes that it is essential that the new funding framework – that will replace the current Seventh Framework Programme or FP7 in 2013 – retains and enhances the current focus on proven sectors that are poised for further growth.  This will not only deliver economic benefits but, through the development of new technology, will dramatically improve the environmental performance of the EU as well.

Graham Chisnall, Managing Director of Aerospace and Operations at A|D|S, said:

“We must be certain that Europe delivers a new research funding programme that focuses on long-term, sustainable economic benefits.  If the Commission wishes to promote long-term job-creation, environmental progress and centres for high-tech global innovation leadership then it should focus on improving the current programme rather than make radical changes to the new framework just to be seen to change for the sake of it.

“In these tough economic times we must stay relentlessly focused on maintaining investment in Europe’s strengths when allocating funding.  We cannot afford the EU to take its eye off the ball of economic growth by pursuing theoretically-based changes to research funding programmes.

“For example, FP7 funding for aerospace has delivered a strong return on investment and will continue to do so.  Such investment also fills a gap in funding from banks that exists due to the long-term nature of returns as well as the lengthy technology development periods of aerospace products and their long life cycles in operation.  This investment has seen £1.83 billion spent in the UK alone on improving the environmental performance of aircraft to the point where today new aeroplanes such as the Airbus A380 are as fuel-efficient the typical hybrid car.  However, there is a danger that such funding will be re-allocated or reprioritised in the CSF that could be very damaging for the prospects of a proven, successful sector as well as the wider European economy, jobs, exports and the environment.”

Also among the recommendations from A|D|S are:
* The Common Strategic Framework should be simplified and made more flexible.  This will allow businesses of all sizes to make the most of the programme and will therefore deliver the maximum benefit to the European economy.
* Budgets for large strategic projects should no longer be annualised.  Instead the funds should be available when required to avoid an artificial tempo being created within such programmes.
* Results should be measured over the long-term, for example looking at jobs created and the positive impact on the EU balance of trade rather than short-term indicators such as the number of patents filed.
* The various instruments within the CSF should be retained, harmonised and simplified.
* Greater prioritisation should be given to objectives boosting sustainable economic growth.

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