3. Examples of success stories from the Framework Programmes for Research

Here are ten among the many success stories so far:

  1. European citizens will get cheaper solar energy and will pay less for solar panels thanks to "CrystalClear", a €28 million project part-funded by the Commission. Sixteen partners from eight different countries demonstrated how to cut by 50% the manufacturing costs of components for solar energy panels and other photovoltaic technology. By working together in a multidisciplinary and multinational consortium using EU funding, they were able to produce results that will increase the market share of the European photovoltaic industry and create skilled jobs.

  2. The €1.9 million EU-funded EUROLIVE project has contributed to reducing coronary heart disease and strokes, and therefore also the cost of care for patients. The project demonstrated a direct link between compounds (polyphenols) found in olive oil and protection against "bad" cholesterol (low density lipoprotein). Around a tablespoon of polyphenol-rich olive oil is sufficient to have beneficial effects and can be easily integrated into a balanced daily diet. The research was undertaken on 200 healthy individuals from across Europe and used clinical trials in five different countries. Three types of olive oil were tested containing high, low and negligible levels of polyphenols and the one highest in this compound was shown to lead to higher levels of "good" cholesterol and lower levels of the damaging oxidation arising from "bad" cholesterol. 60% of coronary heart diseases and 40% of strokes can be linked to elevated cholesterol levels.

  3. FLY-BAG, an EU-funded consortium of SMEs, researchers and an airline, has developed a new bomb-resistant luggage container for commercial aircraft. Conventional containers burst abruptly in response to an explosive shock-wave, causing potentially catastrophic damage to the airframe. The FLY-BAG approach is to use high strength textiles combined with energy-absorbing composites which soak up the shock-wave reducing the damage to the outer skin of the aircraft and the airframe. In around two years FLY-BAG has become a pioneering standard setter in a potentially huge world market. Spin-offs are likely in other areas such as law enforcement and security-sensitive building design. This €2.2 million EU project was able to succeed so quickly because it brought together partners from several Member States who combined the highest levels of expertise in modelling, design, materials, manufacturing and testing.

  4. EU funded research involving 19 partners from 13 European countries is developing a new approach to treating Alzheimer's disease using nanoparticles. The work has shown that treatments based on nanoparticles can decrease the level of "peptides" that accumulate in the brain and characterise Alzheimer's. The goal is to tailor-make nanoparticles able to cross the blood-brain barrier and then selectively recognise and destroy the toxic peptides. The European added value is based on the cooperation between many different scientific and technological disciplines and between academia and businesses, big and small. This would not be possible at national level. In Europe there are currently around 3 million Alzheimer's sufferers and with increasing life expectancy this number is set to double in Western Europe by 2040. Every seven seconds worldwide, one new case of Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed.

  5. The European Green Car Initiative is making the widespread introduction of electric vehicles in Europe a commercial reality. Bringing together 51 research projects, large equipment manufacturers such as Siemens, along with leading car manufacturers (Volkswagen and Renault) EGCI has succeeded in getting major stakeholders moving in the same direction. EGCI is tackling issues such as European standards, electricity distribution networks, smart ICT technologies, faster-charging, longer-life batteries, and lighter, stronger car components. As oil becomes scarcer and the pressure on car manufacturers to "green-up" builds, many countries are setting ambitious targets for the introduction of electric cars: China is aiming for 50% of new cars sales in 2020. The world market will be enormous, and Europe must be a mayor player; electric car technologies have the potential to create unprecedented job opportunities and growth. Total investment in EGCI amounts to €5 billion with €4 billion coming from the European Investment Bank and €1 billion mobilised under the EU research programme. Europe can become a world leader in this new sector only through collaboration, setting common standards and reaching agreement on developing compatible and complementary technologies.

  6. The first micro-chip in the world smaller than 45 nanometers was developed in 2004 by European engineers receiving EU funding under the NANOCMOS project. The momentum generated by this project and subsequent ones has put EU industry in pole position in this field, opening the door to innovations in products and services ranging from communications to embedded electronics, where Europe is the world leader with a 40% share of a global market worth more than €100 billion per year.

  7. A potential treatment has been found for the rare genetically-inherited disease alpha-mannosidosis, thanks to €10 million in EU research funding for three linked projects. The human enzyme product rhLAMAN (LamazymTM) is now undergoing clinical development, to demonstrate its efficacy and safety for patients. EU-funded research bringing together partners from many countries is the only effective way to find cures for rare diseases. There are at least 6 000 rare diseases, and though each one affects less than 1 in 2000 people in EU, taken together, they affect some 30 million European citizens. Member States, especially smaller ones, have neither the financial resources nor sufficient case numbers to act effectively.

  8. EU-funded researchers developed groundbreaking computer technology known as Time Triggered Architecture (TTA), now widely commercialised and used in safety-critical systems such as railway signalling, real-time adjustment of speed and route in trains and aircraft, or the regulation of pressure in aeroplane cabins. The Airbus A380, for instance, has already flown more than 5 million passengers across the world using a control system for cabin pressure based on TTA. Transport safety systems are the first applications of this technology but it has the potential to become the worldwide standard for many embedded computer applications. Prototypes for renewable energy generation and medical systems have been built successfully. Other applications are expected for industrial control and automation.

  9. The EU funded European and Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP) is accelerating the development of new clinical treatments to fight the three main poverty related diseases - HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which affect hundreds of millions of people world-wide. The EDCTP has so far supported 54 trials of new treatments including an anti-retroviral formulation for HIV-infected children, which has subsequently been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Developing a new drug, vaccine or microbicide, and conducting clinical trials, is far beyond the reach of the countries currently most affected, and even in Europe before 2003 efforts were fragmented and under-resourced. Only through international collaboration could such a large-scale endeavour be envisaged. The EDCTP brings together 14 EU Member States and two Associated Countries in partnership with 29 sub-Saharan African countries. It is jointly funded by the European Commission (€132 million); participating European countries (€116 million) and third party funding (€63 million) from the private sector and charities.

  10. Under the €3.4 million INCLUD-ED project, researchers from 14 Member States working in schools in disadvantaged multicultural settings achieved an increase from 15% to 85% in the number of children achieving basic reading levels. The key to this success was the involvement of families – especially female relatives - and local communities, using a new approach linking education to family circumstances. The results of INCLUD-ED are now being applied in real classroom settings. Through working in an EU funded collaborative project the researchers in INCLUD-ED were able to share knowledge and draw on their different experiences and cultural backgrounds to arrive at solutions that can be applied across Europe, adapted as necessary for local contexts and customs.