EADS co-chief executive Tom Enders is calling for the creation of a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-style technology incubator at the heart of a €200 million ($240 million) effort to underpin collaborative European defence research.

Speaking in Brussels at a European Defence Agency (EDA) conference on the future of research and technology, Enders, who is also president of defence industry association ASD, proposed a series of key initiatives. These include the establishment of a technology incubator, a European network of centres of excellence, a network of European technology experts based on the EDA CapTech Network – and the creation of a high-level expert panel to direct the joint EU research agenda in the same way as civil aeronautics research and technology priorities are set.

Enders said a European equivalent of DARPA could be a viable model. “Let us not forget DARPA has a $2 billion budget for such upstream research. We cannot credibly claim to match such amounts – but we have to get going,” he said.

Enders proposed the formation of a common research budget of €50 million by 2007, increasing to €200 million in the medium term. Appealing to EU member states to match the defence industry’s enthusiasm for an agency whose principal role is to drive European capabilities in research and technology, Enders said: “It is up to member states to transfer the necessary management power, responsibilities and budget to the agency.”

Enders added that talks on the establishment of a core network of centres of excellence focused around key technologies should begin immediately. Javier Solana who heads the EDA, told delgates: “Industry has urged that the proportion of R&T expenditure in Europe that is spent collaboratively should increase from less than 5% to 20%. We must, urgently, decide how best to achieve this aim.”


Source: Flight International