The specific programme on 'Cooperation' supports all types of research activities carried out by different research bodies in trans-national cooperation and aims to gain or consolidate leadership in key scientific and technology areas.
FP7 allocates EUR 32 413 million to the Cooperation programme. The budget will be devoted to supporting cooperation between universities, industry, research centres and public authorities throughout the EU and beyond.
The Cooperation programme is sub-divided into ten distinct themes. Each theme is operationally autonomous but aims to maintain coherence within the Cooperation Programme and allowing for joint activities cutting across different themes, through, for example, joint calls.
The ten identified themes reflect the most important fields of knowledge and technology where research excellence is particularly important to improve Europe’s ability to address its social, economic, public health, environmental and industrial challenges of the future. Their continued relevance will be guaranteed by relying on a number of sources from the research sector, including the European Technology Platforms (ETP). Important themes identified in the Strategic Research Agendas (SRAs) developed by the ETPs are therefore covered by the Cooperation programme.
Across all these themes, support to trans-national cooperation will be implemented through.
Collaborative research: European Excellence
The bulk of EU research funding in FP7 will go to collaborative research, with the objective of establishing excellent research projects and networks able to attract researchers and investments from Europe and the entire world. This is to be achieved through a range of funding schemes: Collaborative projects, Networks of Excellence, Co-ordination/support actions, etc.
The Commission's 2004 stakeholder consultation on the future of European research showed very strong support for European funding for trans-national collaborative research, though a common concern was that there should be a lower number of partners in consortia and a greater focus on smaller projects than was the case under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
Dr Ramon Marimon also led a high-level expert panel to carry out a mid-term review of the new instruments introduced under FP6.
Amended proposal for a European Parliament and Council Decision concerning the 7th framework programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007-2013).
Proposal for a Council Decision concerning the Specific Programme "Cooperation" implementing the Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013) (COM(2005) 440
Europa: Action for "centres of excellence" with a European dimension Commission's Communication: Towards a European Research Area [PDF]
European Technology Platforms (ETPs) have been set up in a number of areas where Europe's competitiveness, economic growth and welfare depend on important research and technological progress in the medium to long term. They bring together stakeholders, under industrial leadership, to define and implement a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) The ETPs have contributed to the definition of the themes of the Cooperation programme, in particular in research areas of special industrial relevance. The implementation of the SRA will be supported by the Cooperation programme in areas where they constitute true European added value.
EURAB, the European Research Advisory Board has made a checklist of "guiding principles" for Technology Platforms - Report on European Technology Platforms [PDF]
An advanced preparatory report on the key features and objectives of the different Technology Platforms and their current state identified up to and beyond the launch of FP7 - Technology platform: from definition to implementation of a common research agenda [PDF]
Joint Technology Initiatives
In a limited number of cases, the scale of a research or technological objective and the resources involved justify setting up long-term public-private partnerships in the form of Joint Technology Initiatives. These initiatives, mainly resulting from the work of European Technology Platforms and covering one or a small number of selected aspects of research in their field, will combine private sector investment and national and European public funding, including grant funding from the Research Framework Programme and loan finance from the European Investment Bank. Joint Technology Initiatives may be decided on the basis of Article 171 of the Treaty or on the basis of the Specific Programme Decisions in accordance with Article 166 of the Treaty.
Coordination between national research programmes
These actions will use two main tools: the ERA-NET scheme and the participation of the Community in jointly implemented national research programmes (Treaty Article 169). The action may cover subjects not directly linked to the ten themes in as far as they have a sufficient EU added value. The action will also be used to enhance the complementarity and synergy between FP7 and activities carried out under intergovernmental structures such as EUREKA and COST. A previous background document Coordination of National Research Programmes on the Coordination of national research programmes stated the FP7 proposals will aim at consolidating these results and pushing the coordination to a higher level.
A background document, previously published on the Coordination of national research programmes states that proposals for the FP7 will aim at consolidating the achieved results and pushing the coordination to a higher level. The co-ordination of national research programmes will be improved and ties between European intergovernmental research organisations and the EU will be strengthened.
ERA-NET will aim to strengthen the coordination of national and regional research in two ways:
- providing a framework for actors implementing public research programmes to improve coordination through new ERA-NETs and broadening and deepening existing ERA-NETs;
- providing additional EU financial support to participants who create a common fund for the purpose of joint calls for proposals among national and regional programmes (‘ERA-NET PLUS’).
The Commission stakeholder consultation [PDF] on the future of European research revealed a strong support for this objective from all categories of participants. Along with comments on Article 169 stating that lessons from current Article 169 initiatives should be taken into account, and that coordination with EUREKA is important.
While there is a strong element of continuity with previous programmes, the FP7 Cooperation programme introduces some new elements intended to facilitate European research cooperation.
• Joint Technology Initiatives intended to facilitate ambitious pan-European public-private partnerships;
• Strengthened coordination of national research programmes will be strengthened, assisted by a continuation of the ERA-NET scheme, which will be implemented within each research theme;
• Enhanced complementarity and synergies of research programmes across Europe through ‘Article 169 initiatives‘ whereby the European Community participates in jointly implemented national research programmes;
• A more targeted approach to international cooperation within each theme and across themes;
• More flexible means to react to emerging needs and unforeseen policy needs;
• Optimal participation of SME across all themes.