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Tue, Jan 18, 2000 - Page 4 News List

EU beckons for research

INFORMATION EXCHANGES The National Science Council wants to see Taiwan's technology leaders build up their relations with European countries

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Scientific research laboratories and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are being encouraged by the government to work with EU countries to exchange information and broaden the potential market for their high-tech products in Europe.

At a technology development workshop hosted yesterday by the National Science Council (NSC), officials from the European Commission Research Directorate-General invited proposals by laboratories and SMEs in Taiwan to participate in its Fifth Framework Program of Research and Technological Development.

The project budget for 1999 to 2002 is 14.96 billion euros (about NT$463 billion).

"Based on common interests, partners can benefit from working together on global issues, such as gene modification, wireless communication and natural disaster prevention," said Jorma Routti, Director-General of the Research Directorate-General of the European Commission.

Routti brought up the issue of earthquake studies as an example of how Taiwan and other earthquake-prone countries could benefit from the project.

"Proposals presented by Tai-wanese scientists will be evaluated like every other project from independent experts who are coming from European countries," said Routti, referring to the notion that scientists from non-member countries would be treated with equal respect.

According to participatory rules of the research program, it is open to any legal entity established in an EU member state, or associated states involved in research, for the dissemination or exploitation of these results.

Countries outside the EU can participate, but the Commission reserves the right to decide on a case-by-case basis.

Routti said there were several areas open for specific projects under the general scientific research program, ranging from high-tech infrastructure, life sciences, sustainable development and energy-related studies, which would be suitable for Taiwan.

"Taiwan will not be paying any registration or membership fees. It will be paying only for the expense of its Taiwanese partners in the project," Routti said.

NSC officials said the focus of the transnational cooperative effort would be in improving high-tech communication skills, university exchanges in summer, forming platforms for energy and environment issues, sharing basic scientific research information and industrial development experience.

"We will not donate any money in exchange for participation in the project, but will choose essential topics contained in the project to work on," said NSC Vice Chairman Chang Chin-fu (張進福).

"Priorities will be multimedia, genetic engineering and disaster prevention," said Hsu Tze-chi (徐澤志), director of the NSC's department of international programs (國際合作處).

Because of the various energy and environmental policies carried out by the individual EU countries, EU officials said that cooperative research was a first step toward sustainable global development.

"Since the environmental challenge is common to the whole world, related environmental technologies should be shared as efficiently as possible between all countries," said Routti.

However, Leonidas Karapiperis, adviser to the EU's Research Directorate-General, said further understanding of existing policies in Taiwan was necessary since this was a first contact situation.

NSC officials said the representative office in Brussels would become a window to communicate with the European Commission and details of further ties would be forthcoming.

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