The EU research programs for industrial companies are an important building block for securing Europe's position in global competition. But the programs often come too late and the entry barriers are too high. The VDMA, Europe's largest association for mechanical engineering, calls for better cooperation between EU authorities and industry.
Frankfurt/Brussels, 10 August 2022 - Fewer and fewer SMEs are applying to participate in EU research programs. The VDMA sees three main reasons for this: Firstly, low chances of success combined with much effort for application that leads to frustration. Secondly, the programs are too often only addressing short-term political trends and neglect important technological needs of industry. And, thirdly, the timing is often not right: urgent topics are often taken up in work programs only two or three years later.
"For the mechanical and plant engineering industry as a technology integrator and solution provider for a wide range of industries, EU-wide research cooperation is crucial," says VDMA Deputy Executive Director Hartmut Rauen. "In view of the challenges the EU and its industry are facing - from climate change and resource scarcity to technological sovereignty and competitiveness - we need new, innovative and sustainable solutions more than ever. It is therefore alarming that fewer and fewer companies are showing interest in EU research programs and that priorities of calls for funding are becoming less and less relevant to industry," Rauen complains.
Industry can mobilize the private investment needed to finally increase research intensity to 3 percent of gross domestic product across Europe as well.
In the VDMA's view, new approaches are needed: Above all, many more companies must find their way into the EU programs through instruments, which have lower barriers and are faster. Furthermore, priorities must be more clearly focused on the technological edge that companies need for their competitiveness and the green transition. In addition, platforms and partnerships bringing together industry, scientists, investors, and policy makers can support transformation.
"We call on EU research policy makers to engage with industry. We have a lot to offer: The expertise on technologies and markets, but also the right interpretation of research results. Industry can mobilize the private investment needed to finally increase research intensity to 3 percent of gross domestic product across Europe as well - a target the EU has been missing for decades. Now is the time to team up," demands the VDMA Deputy Executive Director.