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Mission

Damiani

(Alessandro Damiani, Head of Unit, Horizontal Aspects

Transport Directorate, DG Research & Innovation
European Commission, Brussels, Belgium - Founder of APRE)

 

 

For over twenty-five years, APRE, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), has provided its members as well as businesses, government agencies, and private individuals, information, support and assistance for participation in national and European programmes and collaborative initiatives (today, with particular reference to Horizon 2020) in the field of Research, Technological Development and Innovation (RTDI) and in the transfer of research results.

 

The Europe of the 21st century still has visions for the future, though keeping its feet firmly on the ground. Its objectives are ambitious: reunite the continent and expand the boundaries of the Union, without slowing down the integration process; explore new areas of knowledge and make them instrumental to economic and societal advancement; have more influence on the international scene, bringing the message of peace and progress. At the same time, these visions correspond to concrete objectives, involving work plans and deadlines, legal regulations and statistical analyses, as well as percentages to take as a
goal and programmes to achieve them.


Therefore, it is natural that knowledge, research, science and technology are more than ever at the centre of the European project: they are the bridge between reality and hope, between present and future. Research in Europe has done and is doing a great deal to realise that design and give credibility to those ambitions. Europe is running ahead of the integration of new members in the Union and accelerating it by involving thousands of scientists and researchers from those countries in research projects and collaboration networks of the Framework Programme. It is trying to reorient budget priorities and increase investments until reaching 3% of the GDP to be spent in R&D, in order to give
thrust and vigor to the modernisation and growth objectives. It is trying to rationalise its activities, aiming at concentration and complementarity of research efforts, so as to reach a critical mass and exert a greater impact on society and the economy of the continent. Europe is broadening its competence – space and safety, to cite the most significant cases – and redefining its objectives to better suit its aspiration of greater autonomy and
leadership.


Since a few years, the strategy of the European Research Area is transforming the Framework Programme from a budgetary tool for funding projects and stimulating collaboration to a policy instrument for integration and development.
It is leading the way towards the construction of a truly European “research system”, that is organised with greater coherence and complementarity and more efficient in its performance. It is introducing more competition amongst its national components, in order to pursue scientific excellence and enhance collaboration amongst those who hold the knowledge and hence promote ongoing specialisation by creating and reinforcing centres of competence at the European level.  

 

Today, due to this strategy, Europe is starting to face up to a series of bottlenecks in “production capacities” in research: human resources, training and mobility of researchers; research infrastructures and mobilising the will and the resources necessary to create them; fundamental research as an essential component for any formula dealing with development and innovation.


Faced with these transformations, the role played by organisms such as the Agency for the Promotion of European Research (APRE) is indispensable, and necessary furthermore to respond to more ambitious challenges. Information to firms, universities and research centres, assistance to those who intend to submit proposals, training of research operators are all services that are still necessary in order to increase the quantity and quality - and thereby the chances of success - of projects submitted to the severe evaluation of the Framework Programme. More important still, the fact that the size and
partnership of funded projects are increasing while their numbers are
decreasing makes the competition stronger. Hence those services become more important.

 

In addition, there are also new needs to face and more detailed questions to answer: identify the potential of proposers and stimulate their propensity to collaborate and
compete; find the most suitable financing opportunities; identify collaborations while the
partnership is still open; coordinate, in some cases, complex interactions among the
partners or supporting them in managing their project portfolio; or, finally, provide technical support to the institutions involved in the construction of the European Research Area: from the exchange of information on policies to the opening up of national programmes; from overcoming mobility obstacles to promoting the dialogue between science and society.


Therefore, the new European R&D strategy considerably amplifies the range of needs and at the same time the range of possibilities. Furthermore, it asks for greater effort, in terms of competence, excellence, collaboration and competetiveness, from research protagonists of every country, whether they are policy-makers, programme executives or researchers. In this context, APRE, by virtue of its sound roots in the research sector, its presence
throughout Italy and its fifteen years of experience, can offer Italy and Europe
an extremely valuable service.