Ministers give green light to EUROSTARS and assisted living programmes

The Council of Ministers has given the green light to two new pan-European research programmes. The 'Ambient assisted living' (AAL) programme will draw on information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve the quality of life of the elderly, while the EUROSTARS programme aims to support the research activities of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

The AAL programme brings together 20 EU Member States, plus Israel, Norway and Switzerland. The six year programme is funded to the tune of €600 million. Half of this amount comes from the participating countries and the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), while the other half comes from the private sector.

AAL aims to promote the development of innovative ICT products and services which can boost older people's quality of life by making it easier for them to live and work independently and participate actively in society, for example. They also aim to create the critical mass of research, development and innovation in the EU in the field of technologies designed to help people age well in the information society. Finally, the programme aims to improve conditions for the industrial exploitation of research results.

Meanwhile the EUROSTARS programme brings together 26 EU Member States plus Iceland, Israel, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. The programme is designed to support Europe's research-performing SMEs, thereby enabling them to compete on the global scale.

Specifically, EUROSTARS aims to boost the innovative capacity of the economy; overcome the lack of coordination of national research policies in this area; advance the development of the European Research Area (ERA); and help Europe achieve its objective of investing 3% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in research by 2010.