Competitiveness and innovation--CIP.
CIP has integrated a large number of earlier EU programmes into 3 sub-programmes: the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP) focusing on SMEs, the ICT Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP) to support the adoption of ICTs in businesses, administrations and public sector services and the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme (IEE).
On 30 June 2006, CIP was incorporated into the EEA Agreement, thereby ensuring the continuation of EFTA participation in these EU activities. Switzerland plans to participate later.
Who can apply?
CIP is mainly aimed at SMEs through intermediates in the public sector, financial institutions, business organisations and other associations, SMEs call apply directly in some areas (see also the Commission website).
Historically the activities and measures in support of SMEs include three multi-annual programmes that all aimed to maximise the potential of SMEs by improving the business environment and framework conditions, giving better access to finance, encouraging entrepreneurship and providing tools for cooperation between regions and countries. The previously Multi-Annual Programme for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (2001-2005), commonly known as MAP, pursued a series of initiatives under three headings.
The EuroInfo Centres Network (EIC) is a decentralised network stretching across Europe to inform, advise and assist SMEs. There are 5 EuroInfo Centres in Norway and I in Iceland. Financial instruments managed by the European Investment Fund (ELF) specifically targeted the improvement of the financial environment for businesses.
In the field of ICT, several EU programmes have been undertaken since 1988. Most of these programmes have been included in the EEA Agreement. CIP unites actions supported by earlier EU programmes dealing with information society technologies (ISTs) such as MODINIS, which provided financial support for the implementation of the eEurope 2005 Action Plan and eTEN, which aimed to accelerate the take-up of services to sustain the European social model of an inclusive and cohesive society. It also includes the actions under eContentplus, a multiannual Community programme to make digital content in Europe more accessible, usable and exploitable, which until 2008 runs on a separate legal basis.
The first Intelligent Energy Europe Programme was adopted in 2003. The second consists of 3 parts: SAVE (energy efficiency and rational energy use), ALTENER (new and renewable energy sources) and STEER (energy in transport). COOPENER will no longer be part of CIP.
The Competitiveness and Innovation programme 2007-2013
Within the overall structure, CIP offers funding possibilities for a range of business-oriented innovation projects, ranging from new computer technologies to more unusual branches of innovation, such as innovative management structures. CIP is closely linked to the Lisbon Strategy and contributes to the competitiveness and innovative capacity of the EU as an advanced knowledge society with sustainable development based on robust economic growth and a highly competitive social market economy with a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment.
CIP's main objectives are to:
* foster the competitiveness of enterprises, in particular SMEs;
* promote all forms of innovation including eco-innovation;
* accelerate the development of a sustainable, competitive, innovative and inclusive information society;
* promote energy efficiency and new and renewable energy sources in all sectors including transport.
Whilst eco-innovation will be a transversal theme of the whole programme, CIP is composed of three specific programmes.
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme (EIP) is the largest pillar of CIP. Through the Lisbon Strategy. UE leaders have repeatedly emphasised the importance of creating a climate favourable for SMEs and innovation. Part of EIP funding has therefore been earmarked for innovation activities.
The EIP innovation actions aim to support the development of innovation policy in the EU Member States and their regions and to facilitate the exploitation of synergies between national, regional and European innovation policy and support activities. Networking among stakeholders is supported in EIP to facilitate the flow of knowledge and ideas that are necessary for innovation.
The Innovation Scoreboard, presented by the Commission at the EFTA Innovation conference in November 2006, showed that all 4 EFTA States were in the top league in many areas with regard to innovation potential. They have a high utilisation of human capital with Iceland in the first position in Europe. Switzerland is strong in research and development. Iceland and Liechtenstein are strong in measures concerning intellectual property rights and Norway in entrepreneurial education and application of technology. However, EFTA States do not fare so well in research spending and commercialisation of research results.
With a budget of 2.17 billion [euro] for 2007-2013, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme aims to achieve its objectives through the following actions:
Access to finance for SMEs through ELI financial instruments: these target companies in different phases of their life cycle: seed, start up, expansion and business transfer. They are managed by the European Investment Fund (ELF) and include 3 facilities:
* the High Growth and Innovative SME Facility (GIF) contributes to the establishment and financing of SMEs and reduction of the equity and risk capital market gap;
* the SME Guarantees Facility (SMEG) provides counter-guarantees or co-guarantees for guarantee schemes and direct guarantees for financial intermediaries;
* the Capacity Building Scheme (CBS) operates with international financial institutions such as the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) to improve the investment and technology expertise of funds and other financial intermediaries. The EFTA Working Group on Enterprise Policy launched EFTA's participation in these financial instruments at a seminar in Luxembourg on 28 June 2007 (see picture on page 31).
A network of business and innovation service centres provide integrated business and innovation support services and will form part of a European network, drawing on the experience of EuroInfo Centres (EICs) and Innovation Relay Centres (IRCs). They provide enterprises with up-to-date information on European directives and regulations, public sector contract opportunities, business opportunities, funding, research and development initiatives and much more. Established in 1987, the network has over 250 centres across Europe.
Support for initiatives to foster entrepreneurship and innovation will be given to encourage the transnational networking of innovative companies and all other actors in the innovation process. This includes benchmarking initiatives and the exchange of best practices.
The ceo-innovation action aims to make sustainable development become a business reality. It supports innovative products, processes and services to reduce environmental impacts, prevent pollution or achieve a more efficient and responsible use of natural resources.
Support for policy-making is set up to encourage the transnational networking of innovative companies and all other actors in the innovation process.
The ICT Policy Support Programme
Taking into account that a quarter of the EU GDP growth and 40%, of productivity growth are induced by information and communication technologies (ICTs), the second pillar of CIP, the ICT Policy Support Programme OCT PSP), is very important for reaching the goals defined in the Lisbon Strategy and the i2010 strategic framework.
Despite progress in the uptake of ICTs, businesses in Europe and in particular SMEs could do more and make better use of ICTs to innovate in product services and processes.
With 730 million [euro] over 7 years, the ICT PSP is the major financial instrument used at EU level to achieve these objectives. Whereas FP7 supports research in and development of new information and communication technologies, ICT PSP supports deployment through the wider uptake and best use of information and communication technologies by citizens, governments and businesses, in particular SMEs.
The following ICT policy areas are supported by the ICT PSP:
eGovernment aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public administrations and to facilitate their interactions with citizens and businesses. More specifically, the 2007 work programme has the following objectives:
* to implement and give access to electronic public procurement (eProcurement) in all Member States participating in the exercise;
* to set up an interoperable system for the recognition of electronic identification (eID) and authentication available throughout the EU and participating countries;
* to provide innovative ICT-based solutions that support administrations' efforts to process and deliver better public services to all, including secure document management and archiving;
* to stimulate experience sharing, re-use and cooperation in the uptake of innovative eGovernment services.
eInclusion is high on the EU ICT agenda, eInclusion covers two main objectives. On the technical side, the objective is to develop more accessible and usable ICT technology. On the societal side, the use of ICT should achieve a wider inclusion of all society groups (hampered by age. gender, employment, immigration. etc.) in the information society. The 2007 work programme especially concentrates on eInclusion projects in the ageing society.
eHealth is important because the maintenance of a sustainable health system will be one of the major challenges for ageing European societies in the coming years. ICT-based systems for sustainable and interoperable health services (eHealth) provide means to address it. Co-financed European Community research programmes have supported eHealth since the 1990s. Many research results have now been tested and put into practice. This has put Europe in a leading position in the use of electronic health records in primary care and deployment of health (smart) cards. These developments have contributed to the emergence of a new "eHealth industry" that has the potential to be the third largest industry in the health sector with a turnover of 11 billion [euro]. The main goal of the programme is to ensure the implementation of EU-wide interoperable health services. Accompanying the increased mobility of European citizens, the 2007 work programme will focus on the EU-wide implementation of patients' summaries or Emergency Data Set as well as electronic medication records and ePrescription to support the continuity of care for patients moving across borders.
Other themes with a horizontal dimension that are supported by ICT PSP are experience-sharing exercises on ICT initiatives for SMEs, such as the deployment of the Digital Business Ecosystem, a concept emerging worldwide as an innovative approach to support the adoption and development of ICT, or innovative solutions such as "'Living Labs", experience research centres and other similar initiatives. The "Intelligent Cars awareness action" intends to accelerate the take-up and best use of new ICT-based Intelligent Vehicle Systems for safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly transport and mobility services. An important horizontal concern which affects all policy areas is the development and wide use of trustworthy infrastructure which protects the privacy of personal data used by different services such as eGovernment, eInclusion or eHealth.
Intelligent Energy Europe
The Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) is a programme for the promotion of energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources. The programme is to contribute towards a secure, sustainable energy for Europe, while enhancing European competitiveness. There are many untapped opportunities to save energy and encourage the use of renewable energy sources in Europe, but market conditions do not always help. The objective of the programme is therefore to create the policy and market conditions needed for improved energy efficiency and increased renewable energy use.
The programme focuses on 3 main areas:
Fostering energy efficiency and the rational use of energy resources. Actions will include the improvement of energy efficiency and the rational use of energy, in particular in the construction and industry sectors;
Promoting new and renewable energy sources and to support energy diversification. Actions cover the promotion of new and renewable energy sources for centralised and de-centralised production of electricity, heat and cooling, thus supporting the diversification of energy sources;
Promoting energy efficiency and the use of new and renewable energy sources in transport. Actions support initiatives relating to all energy aspects of transport, and the diversification of fuels. The programme also includes the promotion of renewable fuels and energy efficiency in transport.
The Intelligent Energy Europe programme provides the elements necessary for the improvement of sustainability. It is to support legislative measures needed to attain the objective of sustainability and to develop the means and instruments to follow up, monitor and evaluate the impact of these legislative measures.
The programme aims at boosting investment across EU Member States in new and best performing technologies in the fields of energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy diversification. This includes the transport sector, focusing on the need to bridge the gap between successful demonstrations of innovative technologies and their effective and broad market uptake in order to attain leverage of public and private sector investment. The key here is to promote new technologies, in order to bring down costs and increase market experience. This is an important contribution towards the reduction of the financial risks and other perceived threats and barriers that hinder this type of investment.
The programme is to support the removal of non-technological barriers to efficient and intelligent patterns of energy production and consumption by promoting institutional capacity building at both local and regional level. The key here is to raise awareness through the educational system and to encourage exchanges of experience and know-how among the main players concerned, and to stimulate the spread of best practices and best available technologies.
An annual work programme is compulsory for those who intend to participate in the Intelligent Energy Europe programme. The work programme has to include specific details such as funding priorities, budgets, funding types and conditions, procedures and plans. The calls for proposals are then assessed and selected by the Intelligent Energy Executive Agency. One of the general criteria for applying for funding is that the project has to have a European added value and does not represent only singular actions on a national or local level. In addition, projects must involve at least three partners from different countries and have the duration of a maximum of three years.
The IEE started its second phase in 2007. Altogether, 730 million [euro] will be available to fund projects promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. This is a significant increase from previous years.
EFTA good practice
IT learning resources for schools
Across Europe, ministries of education and other providers of educational content are now offering a wide range of catalogues and large repositories of online learning resources to schools. However, as the level of resources in these repositories continues to expand, educational budgets struggle to cope with the increasing demand for better quality metadata that will enable teachers and learners to quickly and easily find the specific learning materials they need. The MELT (Metadata Ecology for Learning and Teaching) project is specifically designed to provide teachers and learners with this information.
MELT is a 27-month content enrichment private-public partnership project supported by the European Commission's eContentplus Programme. It will merge with CIP's ICT Policy Support Programme in 2008.
MELT will bring together 17 public and private sector content partners. The project's coordinator is the European Schoolnet (EUN), a non-profit consortium of 28 ministries of education in Europe. EUN provides major European education portals for teaching, learning and collaboration. The Icelandic Ministry for Education Science and Culture and Skolavefurinn, a private Icelandic school website, are among the contractors in this project.
EuroInfo Centre Iceland
Office of Economic Affairs
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|Publication:||EFTA Bulletin (Switzerland)|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2007|
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