Commissioner for research, innovation and science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn announced close to euro 6.4bn of investment in research and innovation in July, and at least some of this is filtering down into packaging-related 'calls for proposals'.
"Packaging is definitely one of the focus areas, especially given its strong environmental element," said Alistair McGibbon, FP7 national contact point at the Technology Strategy Board. Three new calls under the Nanotechnology, Materials and Processes theme where materials and process elements do not necessarily have a nano-connection are relevant to packaging, and one under the Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy theme.
While keen to encourage bidders from business and research, those associated with FP7 processes are equally keen to dispel some myths. Darren Ragheb, project manager at the Chemistry Innovation Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), said: "Involvement in a research project can be a lot of work, but you're effectively creating a whole supply chain, potentially creating a new technology alongside people who may buy or licence that technology from you."
Successful projects will involve multiple partners typically 12 from at least three EU Member States.
McGibbon warned potential bidders against looking at FP7 funding as an end in itself. "Companies should look on this as part of their strategic development. The legacy is the real advantage," he said.
He also highlighted long leadtimes. "The application process takes around six months. Then, if you're successful, there's another 1218 months before the project can get off the ground." Ragheb and the other KTNs have organised a free event at IOM3 (The Packaging Society), London, on September 14, 2010. Packaging Society chair Keith Barnes will present research in the sector.