Research projects: the promise of a better future for each European citizen | SIVECO Romania

Research projects: the promise of a better future for each European citizen

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

People around us discuss more and more about European funding, research & development projects, through which Romanian youngsters receive awards abroad for internationally recognized inventions, or about innovations bringing major changes to our lives. So that we ask ourselves: how do we benefit in actual life from the results of these research projects?

The answer to this question is provided by Monica Florea, Manager of European Projects department within SIVECO Romania, active presence in the distinct world of researchers.

We are constantly hearing news speaking of running studies or research and innovation projects giving us hope. Can you tell us why?

Monica Florea: I think that the highest expectations are related to discovering innovative treatments or new technologies able to save lives. It is true, sometimes projects can take years, but depending on the results yielded during the testing phase or the exiting funds, they really materialize. As far as we are concerned, we have participated along with research institutes across Europe in carrying out many projects which are now materializing, either we speak of the medical field, of education, social sector or other fields of activity.

Can you give us a few examples?

Monica Florea: We are currently working for the implementation of a research project aiming to facilitate the social inclusion of elderly, through technology. Within the project "Active life’s extension for an independent and healthy ageing" (ProActive Ageing), an online services integrated platform will be developed, providing practical and motivating IT tools, able to support social interaction and persons and business environment’s adaptability to the pronounced ageing of the population. The SIVECO team is responsible for carrying out the experimental models, the training materials and the set of instruments necessary for supporting the medical research focused to an active and healthy ageing

Another example is the project ISE - Inspiring Science Education, where SIVECO, together with its partners from 15 European countries, has developed a series of innovative digital instruments for teaching sciences. Thus, the educational process is transformed into a pleasant activity, training the pupils’ imagination and building the citizens of tomorrow. We are happy that already over 400 Romanian schools have enlisted for this project!

Is it a European problem, that of the ageing population?

Monica Florea: The ageing of the population is a global issue, not just a European one. According to the United Nations Organization’s data, the ratio of elderly population will grow, on the long term, even in regions where birth rate is high enough at this moment. At global level, the number of persons over 60 is expected to double – from 841 million in 2013 to over 2 billion in 2050. While the number of elderly is expected to exceed the number of children first time ever in year 2047.

At European level, the ratio of elderly, aged 60 and over, grows faster than any other age segment, reaching values of 26.7% in 2020, compared to 23.6% in 2011. And in 2080 senior people will represent 33.3% of the total population. You can imagine this is going to become a real challenge for any state! This is why many research projects are directly addressed to them (the elderly), for example the AeL Program – Ambient Assisted Living. The process of ageing population has a profound impact also over important areas of the economic and social activity, such as the labor market, social protection, education, healthcare, culture or politics. The ageing labor force challenges us to find out answers to questions like: how will we be able to cover the pension costs, how are we going to preserve the balance of ages on the labor market, how are we going to adjust the educational and professional training strategies, how are we going to ensure dwellings and decent living conditions, what should social and healthcare services be able to provide, etc. To all these problems of the future we hope the research projects we are presently running will help, too.

Which are the medical projects you were involved in and that reached to be implemented?

Monica Florea: I will exemplify with the most recent research project completed, Linked2Safety3 – which aimed at building a secured and performing space for medical data processing with the purpose of conducting clinical studies. Through this project we aimed at facilitating the access at European level to electronic medical information, in order to promote medical research and improving the patients’ care. The project was appreciated by the European commissioners attending the project’s final meeting, held in Brussels. For 36 months, numerous specialists from 7 European states, among which were also SIVECO specialists, have contributed to this project.

How do you see the evolution of scientific research?

Monica Florea: An extraordinary thing happens for stimulating the scientific research, which for many years has stayed in the shadow. Romania has the possibility to be involved in major scientific research projects, due to the largest research & innovation funding program supported by the European Union, the Horizon 2020 Program respectively, setting up o budget worth 70 billion Euros for 7 years. The Horizon 2020 Program lays the stress on applicative research, stimulating development and the transfer of innovative ideas from the lab to the market. I am strongly convinced this program will contribute to creating new jobs for Romanian researchers and will bring actual benefits to all European citizens.