EUREKA! Canada Joins Europe's Largest R&D Network

bridges vol. 34, July 2012 / Feature Articles

By Hélène Létourneau

EUREKAOn June 22, 2012, Canada became an associate member of EUREKA, the largest R&D network in Europe, effectively widening the door for Canadian access to an international network of market-driven R&D. This has permitted EUREKA's member countries to take advantage of Canada's strong innovation system. Global collaboration has become a competitive necessity and Canada's associate membership in the network will enable companies from both sides of the Atlantic to access expertise, technology, and markets, encouraging greater productivity and competitiveness.


EUREKA has operated successfully since 1985, supporting market-oriented R&D and innovation projects in all technology sectors. Initially a European intergovernmental network, EUREKA has expanded beyond Europe and Israel to include two associate members: South Korea and now Canada. The EUREKA network includes over 40 economies, including Austria, and brings together governments, industry, research institutes, universities, and other innovation-focused organizations through the development and commercialization of technology.

To date, EUREKA has resulted in:

  • 4,000 projects
  • €10 billion in public funding
  • €19 billion in private investment
  • €93 billion of additional economic activity
  • 378,000 jobs created or safeguarded.

eurostars Businesses and other participants in a EUREKA project decide how a project comes together and evolves, leading to a fast and flexible approach to reaching markets before the competition. EUREKA projects fall into one of three categories – Individual, Cluster, or Eurostars. Projects may be any size and are flexible, needing only a minimum of two independent partners – one of which must come from a full-member country.

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The projects are planned under thematic networks in specific areas of business or technology and are launched in virtually all civilian technological areas in which market potential exists. Project participants retain complete ownership of their intellectual property (IP) and negotiate IP exploitation among themselves on a project-by-project basis. Projects are not bound to a country's research program or national call for proposals – they are bottom-up, with free choice in terms of topic, partner, and time frame. Aside from the necessary reporting requirements, EUREKA is as non-bureaucratic as it gets.

Canada's National Office for EUREKA

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) houses and manages Canada's National Office for EUREKA. This is the first point of contact for Canadian innovators interested in partnering with European compaNRC-IRAP smallnies through its extensive network. Projects will be financed through existing national public and private mechanisms, including the NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) for small- and medium-sized enterprises in Canada.

The role of Canada's National Office for EUREKA is to facilitate the setup and operation of a EUREKA project and to lead the company through its next steps of development. These include finding adequate partners in member countries, securing financial support from each participant, and providing assistance with preparing and submitting project application forms to EUREKA. In addition, the National Office works with its partners to support enterprises as they develop and participate in these EUREKA partnerships.

EUREKA simplifies the funding process by cutting through some of the "red tape" that slows down industry-led projects involving multiple international participants; it does so by coordinating national financial support rather than trying to harmonize the funding rules of the member countries. Once a project is approved, the EUREKA label adds value by endowing participants with a competitive edge in their dealings with financial, technical, and commercial partners. That's a bona fide EUREKA advantage!

John McDougall, President of the National Research Council Canada shaking hands with the Minister of State for the National Economy and Representative of the Hungarian EUREKA Chairmanship, Prof. Dr. Zoltan Cséfalvay, after signing the agreement for Canada’s Association to EUREKA in the Hungarian Parliament. (Photographer: Daniel Vegel)

Canadians as Global Innovators

EUREKA member countries will benefit from Canada's innovative environment. Canadians recognize that they must continually work to go beyond market adaptation to market transformation. Canada also has a strong record of innovation and the right environment for innovation to flourish in the future. As a result, growing numbers of foreign-based and international companies are conducting and commercializing R&D in Canada.

Canadian businesses and their partners are maintaining leadership in long-held areas of strength, including information and communications technologies and aerospace. They are also pioneering technologies in genomics, nanotechnology, and photonics. And they are building exceptional strength in the key science- and technology-based industries shaping the 21st century: health, energy, and clean technologies.

For example, Canada is at the leading edge of discovery in software, telecommunications, and digital media. Canada's broadband and wireless technologies continue to transform world markets with seamless access, mobile data networks, smart antennas, and software-defined radio. Canadian companies and their international partners dominate in simulation, gaming, special effects, and animation technologies for the global entertainment, military, and health markets. In addition, Canadians are recognized as trailblazers in data mining applications, security and authentication, biometrics, Web 2.0, and encryption.

Canada's health science research community comprises over 30,000 investigators in 16 medical schools, and more than 100 teaching hospitals and research institutes. Canadian innovators are internationally recognized for excellence in research and product development in genomics, proteomics, vaccine development, medical devices, regenerative medicine (stem cells), protein engineering, immunotherapy, and drug delivery systems. Canada has the second highest number of biotechnology companies of any country in the world, with the majority focused on human health, giving Canada a strong record of achievement in biopharmaceuticals.

Canadian innovators are successfully meeting the global demand for clean technologies that benefit the environment and combat climate change through emissions reduction and fuel efficiency. Additionally, Canada is a global leader in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Canadian researchers are developing transformative clean technologies in such areas as cellulosic bioethanol, enzyme bleaching in pulp and paper processes, and gas turbine development.

The rising cost of traditional energy and climate change impacts are driving Canadian innovation in the renewable energy sector, with particular strengths in wind energy, hydropower, and biofuels. Canada has also long been a leader in geomatics/mapping technology for sustainable management of water, fisheries, natural resources, and coastal defense.

Ultimately, Canada's association with EUREKA will provide partner economies with an innovation advantage through access to Canada's technology, expertise, and markets. Canada represents an opportunity for firms from European and other member economies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises, to acquire, develop, and deploy technologies for new and improved products and services quickly and effectively. Finally, as the United States' largest trading partner, Canada represents a broader reach for EUREKA members in the North American market.


The author, Hélène Létourneau, is the communications advisor for Canada's EUREKA National Office and communications advisor to the Information and Communications Technology Portfolio at Canada's National Research Council (NRC).