EU Plans $22 Billion Research From Electronics to Drugs

The European Union proposed research initiatives totaling 17.5 billion euros ($22 billion) for electronics, airplanes, agriculture, medicines and cars, seeking to expand programs funded by governments and industry.

The European Commission outlined a 4.8 billion-euro program to spur the development of electronic components, a 4 billion-euro project for cleaner aircraft, a 3.8 billion-euro plan for renewable natural resources, a 3.5 billion-euro medicines initiative and a 1.4 billion-euro program for hydrogen-powered cars. Companies would fund as much as almost 75 percent.

EU public-private partnerships in research and development, begun in 2007, aim to help the 28-nation bloc raise R&D spending to 3 percent of gross domestic product from 2 percent and bridge the gap with the U.S. and Japan. The goal is to overcome fragmentation in Europe by concentrating EU funds and enticing companies to invest more.

“These initiatives not only strengthen our economy, they are an investment in a better quality of life,” EU Research Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn said in a statement today in Brussels. “Working together will enable us to tackle issues that no one company or country can deal with alone.”

The EU is seeking to emerge from a recession, tackle 11 percent unemployment and deploy a new spending plan for 2014-2020. The bloc is also struggling to overcome a three-year debt crisis that has threatened to fragment the 17-nation euro area.

Climate Change

The research plans, which would be for seven to 10 years as of 2014, largely reflect the EU’s concerns about climate change and dependence on imports of polluting fuels such as oil. The plane, car and natural-resources initiatives center on cleaner energy.

All five proposals by the commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, need the support of the bloc’s governments.

The electronics research program would be 50 percent financed by companies including Infineon Technologies AG and Siemens AG, and 50 percent funded by the EU and national governments.

The public funding for the other four projects would come only from the EU budget.

The plane project, dubbed “Clean Sky,” aims to attract 56 percent funding from companies such as European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. and Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc.

The natural-resources plan, which didn’t exist before and is intended to promote bio-based industries, would be 74 percent financed by manufacturers including Novozymes A/S.

The medicines initiative would be 50 percent supported by companies such as GlaxoSmithKline Plc and AstraZeneca Plc, while the program for hydrogen-powered cars would be 50 percent funded by such manufacturers as Daimler AG.

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