BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- 22 February 2011 -- Leaders of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, are commending the commitment by the Council of the European Union to increased support for R&D investment affirmed at the council's summit on 4 February in Brussels.
The council's action underscored the recognition that investing in innovative R&D to boost short- and medium-term growth has long-term positive impacts on jobs and the economy.
In approving the launch of the pilot Innovation Partnership -- with its theme of active, healthy ageing -- the council asserted the role of innovation in "tackling the most critical societal challenges," it reported in published conclusions. The theme provides an example of the payoff of R&D spending: investments to enhance health result in less strain on public finances.
"We in the photonics community are very pleased to see this strong support for investment in innovation that will help the economy as well as to improve people's lives. Photonics is recognized as one of the key technologies in providing solutions to the challenges facing society in energy, healthcare, and other areas," said SPIE President Dr. Katarina Svanberg, professor of oncology at Lund University Hospital. "In my field, for example, new applications of light-based technologies for cancer diagnosis as well as treatment offer tremendous potential to save lives and to improve the quality of life in one's later years."
SPIE advances photonics by connecting researchers and developers at the Society's international forums such as Optics and Optoelectronics, Photonics Europe, and Photonics West, and by publishing articles on new technical research as well as monographs and reference books in the SPIE Digital Library.
The council concluded that innovation R&D spending is vital for building technology expertise and market leadership, and specified aggressive timelines for meeting research goals.
EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn called the council's actions "a big step toward the Innovation Union that all of us in Europe need."
Among the council's conclusions Geoghegan-Quinn highlighted were:
- Commitment to maintaining and where possible increasing public R&D expenditure, as well as making it more effective in leveraging in other funding, to help reach the agreed 3% of GDP target for overall public and private R&D investment by 2020
- Endorsement of an EU-wide venture capital scheme building on the European Investment Fund
- Support for a reinforced Risk Sharing Finance Facility
- Backing for the launch of a modernised intellectual property system, including the possibility of establishing a European knowledge market.
The councils' action provides the momentum needed in order "to start delivering," said Geoghegan-Quinn. "There is no time to lose. A step change in Europe's research and innovation performance is required if we are to achieve a sustainable exit from crisis."
SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific, and supports scholarships, grants and other education programs around the world.
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