European Cities Launch IT, Telecoms Research Network

Goal is make Europe more competitive.

About 20 European cities, including London, Barcelona, Stockholm and Helsinki, launched on Nov. 20 a network for information sharing, research and testing in the fields of mobile and information technology. The "Living Labs Europe" project enables companies, research institutes and investors to share information on technical and commercial testing of new technologies and mobile services.

"One of the goals of the network is to attract companies from around the world to take part in European research and innovation efforts," Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, whose country holds the EU presidency until the end of the year, said as the network was launched in Helsinki.

Living Labs Europe comprises the Spanish cities of Barcelona, Mataro and Sant Cugat and the region of Catalonia, Budapest, Istanbul, London, Salzburg, Sophia-Antipolis in France, Stuttgart, Tallinn, Torino, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, the Swedish-Danish region of Oeresund, and the four Swedish cities of Lund, Malmoe, Vaestervik and Stockholm.

"New, concrete measures are needed to ... make Europe more competitive and innovative in a human-centric way, a way that focuses on peoples' real needs," Vanhanen said. "Across Europe, cities and regions gain comparative advantages by swiftly advancing their infrastructure for transportation and telecommunications. Cities that become nodes in cross-border networks attract business firms and investors, tourists and other visitors," Living Labs said on its website.

The EU, which lags behind the U.S. and Japan in terms of funding for research and development, aims to become the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010. In October it approved the creation of the European Insitution of Engineering and Technology (IET), which could become operational by 2009. And it has also launched a project on European technology platforms, aimed at hammering out development and investment strategies in key fields for growth and employment.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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