30 OCTOBER 2002
- Innovation the tool for a healthy economy
"The great opportunities through which Malta can benefit from the EUs research programmes, will enable us to be in a better position to enhance our economy, as we would be working on innovation the tool for a healthy economy," Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Science and Research in the Ministry of Education Jesmond Mugliett said yesterday.
Mugliett was signing an association agreement through which Malta will be participating in the European Unions FP6 programme for research and technological development.
The ceremony was held in Brussels, and all EU candidate countries have been invited to participate. Amongst those who attended, were the President of the European Commission Romano Prodi, and other Commissioners, namely that for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen and Commissioner for Research Philip Busquin.
Mr. Mugliett added that the FP6 is a continuation of similar programmes carried out over the years. He said that over a period of 18 months, Malta succeeded in obtaining around Lm1.3 million through the FP5 programme all aimed at local research and innovation projects.
The Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) is the local administrator of the FP6, as it was for the previous Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) which will come to an end in December. Malta kicked off its participation in the FP5 in June 2000, and since then, has participated in 47 projects. The MCST offers assistance and information to all those interested to make any proposals to be approved by the European Commission. This assistance is carried out through a number of
Contact Points who work together to disseminate the programme with all those who can benefit: academics from the University of Malta, industry and the public sector.
The FP6 programme is intended to build on its predecessor and is planned to finance and assist those private and public bodies involved in research, so that these may come up with new projects leading to technological development. In this programme, both EU members as well as countries for membership enjoy the same conditions and can benefit from the same available funds in the same manner.
The FP6 will be covering the next four years, and the European Commission has budgeted a record EUR20 billion. This is a clear sign of the EUs commitment towards innovation and research and its role in economic development.
The programme is subdivided into various research areas, which have been decided on the experience gained from previous programmes. These areas include:
Biotechnology and genome studies for better quality of life;
Food and health risks;
Information Society for everyone;
Sustainable development and global changes;
Materials, nanotechnology and new industrial processes;
The citizens role in the setting up of policy for a knowledge based society;
And space and aeronautic projects.
Each area is then divided into a number of subsections called Key Actions, which make it possible that all the research carried out is finally translated and used in a practical and tangible way.
For more information once can contact the Malta Council for Science and Technology on 2166 0340 or through the MCST website www.mcst.org.mt.