Funding: Chemistry on track for high profile in European research

Chemists across Europe are pushing for a higher profile for chemical science in the European Commission's seventh framework programme for research.

FP7 currently lists nine main thematic areas. The sustainable chemistry technology platform Suschem, one of 23 multistakeholder forums set up to provide input into FP7, is pushing to have chemistry included. It has the European parliament's industry, research and energy committee's support but it is not yet clear what the outcome will be.

If this is unsuccessful, Suschem wants chemistry to be well represented in the work programmes instead. It was not named in many programmes in FP6 and consequently few chemistry projects got funding, just eight per cent, says Frank Agterberg, manager innovation strategy at Cefic.

The wording in the Commission's proposal provides a good basis for chemistry in the work programmes, he says. Suschem has until June to provide the Commission with details of its priority research topics.

FP7 will run for seven years, from 2007 to 2013, with a budget of €73bn (50bn). The annual budget of just over €10bn/year appears to be more than double that of FP6. However, the increased funding includes €12bn for the new European Research Council and an unspecified sum for topics that were not part of FP6.

There are four programmes: cooperation, which covers collaborative trans-national research with a budget of €44.7bn; ideas, covering basic research implemented through the European Research Council; capacities, supporting research infrastructures and SMEs with €7.7bn; and people, with €7.1bn.

The proposed thematic areas include: health; food, agriculture and biotechnology; nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies; energy; environment; transport; and security and space research.

Karen Harries-Rees