Wednesday, 13 July 2011

FP7 PPPs: An EU R&I Success Story?

This week (11 and 12 July) over 950 registered delegates met in Brussels to network, discuss past progress and future funding for the EU’s initial Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) on Factories of the Future (FoF), Energy Efficient Buildings (EeB) and the Green Car initiative in Brussels. The three PPPs seem to have worked well, increased industrial participation in FP7 and worked in a fast, efficient and flexible manner. More PPPs are planned as part of Horizon 2020.

The event held at the Charlemagne Building supported the preparation of proposals for the third tranche of cross-thematic coordinated calls by these research PPPs.

In his opening addresss Rudolf Strohmeier, Director-General of DG Research & Innovation, noted that €3.2 billion had been invested so far in the three existing PPP programmes, and a further €480 million of EU funding was available for the next call with deadline 1st December 2011. Projects responding to calls launched under the three PPPs have been characterised by significant industrial (including SME) participation compared to conventional FP7 projects.

Industry re-engaged
Massimo Mattucci speaking for the Factories of the Future PPP said that “Industry had re-engaged in FP7 through the PPPs” and that the PPP research roadmaps reflected industry needs.

Wolfgang Steiger of Volkswagen and the Green Cars initiative said that FP7 PPPs are “a real success story: an efficient, fast model that produces results.”

Jose-Lorenzo Valles from DG R&I endorsed the focus on industry in PPPs but stressed that the FP7 PPP calls were open to all. Overall the success rate for project proposals for PPP calls was higher (~20%) than for conventional FP7 projects. PPPs were of high added-value for competitiveness, more flexible (faster) than JTIs, and brought EC & industry together, with industry able to commit to long-term R&I investment.

Bruno Smets from Philips and EeB said PPPs were “not business as usual” They represent a true value chain approach. It was important to create a market and listen to the voice of the user. But improving the dissemination of programme results to whole value chain was very important.

Many speakers indicated that accurate measurement of the impact of the PPP work was important for the future. There was also a need to refine the governance of PPPs to allow for long term stability.

To coincide with the Information Days a new brochure has been published highlighting progress in the PPPs and including indicative information on the upcoming July 2011 calls for the FoF, EeB and Smart Cars PPPs.

Future of PPPs
Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn delivered the closing address at conference saying: "I am sure you will be very pleased to hear that the draft legislative proposal in preparation for Horizon 2020 will address the use of Public-Private Partnerships. It is important that there is a place for large-scale strategic actions such as PPPs with the critical mass to reach their objectives"

She also indicated how criteria for selecting the industry sectors that are most suitable for future PPPs are developing. Criteria should include:
  • Clear added value by acting at the European level

  • Demonstration of sufficient scale of impact on industrial competitiveness, sustainable growth and/or socio-economic issues

  • A long-term commitment from all parties based on a shared vision and clearly defined objectives

  • The scale of the resources involved in the proposal, and the ability to leverage additional investments in research and innovation

  • Clear defined roles for each of the partners and agreed key performance indicators
The full text of the Commissioner’s speech can be accessed here.

Herbert von Bose of DG Research had also underlined some essential characteristics for future PPPs. Commitment from industry was essential and the proposal had to be “more than just doing business together”. The Commission needed to easily understand what the ultimate goal of the PPP is – essentially what are the measurable economic or environmental impacts or objectives. PPPs need both a technology and a business roadmap. The critical question to answer is: “What does the proposed R&I investment (i.e. EU funding) bring to the citizen and society?”

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