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Technological attraction poles (TAP)


  • Responsible(s) Federal Science Policy:
    Harmegnies Dimitri
  • Final decision of the Ministers Council: 1/6/2001
  • Duration of the research: 1/12/2002 - 31/12/2005
  • Budget: 8,939,000.00 EUR
  • Research projects: 7

Accompanying committee:

Concerned Public Services, semi-public services specialized in the concerned fields, Federation of Belgian Enterprises, an expert from ESA.


The TAP programme seeks to strengthen the innovation dynamic by enhancing the research potential developed on a national scale.
This long-term booster programme centres on the development and use of scientific and technical knowledge in order to devise methods, procedures and tools able to generate innovation in the industrial sector.

Alongside university research teams and their associated centres, use is also being made of joint research centres covering specific sectors (known as 'De Groote' centres) and assimilated centres (CORI, CRM, IBS, INV et LABORELEC).

The aim is two-fold: on the one hand, to ensure the relevance of PAT projects in relation to the needs of the industry sector; and, on the other hand, to optimise the transfer of results that the projects are expected to produce. More specifically, the expertise of the 'De Groote' centres is being utilised in order to identify the needs of the industry sector when elaborating projects and to ensure that the results from projects are channelled into uses in a manner that is substantive and easy to apply. Furthermore, the sector-specific vocation of the 'De Groote' centres provides a guarantee that the results of projects will be made available to the greatest number of firms possible, irrespective of whether they have expressed an interest in the PAT framework or not.


The three domains selected fall within federal competencies:

- standardization
- telecommunications
- space sector

Each of these areas has been chosen for specific reasons:

- Firstly, because there are increasing calls for intervention in a very large number of sectors of national socio-economic life, and because efforts are needed regarding the efficient application of standardisation.
- Secondly, because it underlies the dynamism of the information society and, as a result, fits in with the issue of social cohesion.
- Thirdly, and finally, because it is the purveyor par excellence of generic technologies in key sectors such as telecommunications, materials sciences and Earth observation.

Moreover, these three areas have reached a level of maturity in Belgium that is sufficient for additional efforts to be launched now with a view to taking more effective advantage of scientific and technological knowledge by attuning these to the new needs of the industry sector.

PAT initiatives are organised in a way that maximises synergies between disciplines and across sectors.
Each proposal includes at least one university establishment and a research centre ('De Groote' research centre or assimilated). Each project is accompanied by a monitoring committee, which essentially comprises the potential users of the research results.
The issue of intellectual property when drafting contracts is the subject of particular attention.

Tenderers have the option of working in cooperation with a European university or research centre. This is on a basis of 50:50 co-financing and is limited to a maximum of 20% of the budget for the proposal.

A. Telecommunications and technologies for the information society


The liberalisation of telecommunications is already well advanced. New players are investing in new network infrastructures and helping to provide ever-increasing bandwidth availability. Competition expresses itself in price reductions, allowing new telecommunications services to become a commercial reality. The Internet has emerged as the dominant interactive platform for exchanges of information, both for businesses and for individuals. The arrival of GSM has revolutionized the telecommunications sector by allowing mobile users to connect into the existing fixed telecommunications networks.

The framework is thus in place for the emergence of the information society. The technologies associated with it are together transforming society and the economy, creating new types of work and new types of company but also bringing innovative solutions to some of the major problems facing society, particularly in the areas of health care, the environment, safety, mobility and jobs.

This evolution is creating new opportunities, expanding information and communications services in domains of general interest, contributing to economic development and social dynamism and stimulating joint enterprises between the public and private sectors.

At European level, the programme 'E-Europe - an information society for everyone' is the political initiative which defines the parameters of the various different programmes, with the aim of ensuring that progress towards the information society takes the path of coherence and integration. Of these very diverse programmes, two are more specifically concerned with establishing and implementing an efficient technical infrastructure:

- previously, the programme 'Information Society Technologies' (IST) from the fifth R & D framework programme, which has the the priority aim of supporting technological innovation in European companies and research centres with a view to improving European competitiveness in world electronic technology and communications markets. Preparatory documents for the sixth R&D framework programme (2002-2006) indicate that a sustained effort will be made in this domain over the next few years;

- following on directly from the results of research, the programme 'Trans- European Telecommunications Networks' (TEN-Telecom), which aims to help bridge the gap between technical developments that have reached maturity and their exploitation in the real world in order to speed up the commercial deployment of new infrastructures and services and to encourage investment in services which are in the common interest, by supporting interoperable, standardized, multi-network solutions;

This European approach complements the national policies pursued by member states which must allow the creation of highly effective innovation and research centres open to international collaboration.


The aims of the programme are:

- to consolidate the scientific and technical potential of all activities relating to the development and implementation of telecommunications and technical infrastructures for the information society (digitalization, processing, exchange and distribution of information of all kinds);

- to assist the transfer of knowledge and results from research to all socio-economic sectors so that they can make best use of them according to their specific needs and constraints,

- to promote and support Belgian participation in all international activities, particularly European activities, in these domains, so that Belgium plays an active role in the developments taking place, particularly with regard to the establishing of international norms and standards.

B. Space sector


Belgium allocates a sizeable budget to space research and development within the context of bilateral agreements and ESA. This commitment has allowed various Belgian players (scientists, those in the space industry, users) to develop the leading technologies required to allow them to collaborate in the development of prototype systems, instruments, satellites, launchers etc.

The investments made into the development of these new specific and/or generic new technologies are bearing fruit: Belgium companies are active players in current fast-developing space markets, namely the markets for launchers, telecommunications, observation of the Earth, navigation etc.

Despite the effort that ESA has put into in its technological development programmes, too little attention has been devoted to innovative technologies, which have to prove their applicability through concrete examples. This is where the 'TAP' booster programme comes in, to advance technologies which are either specific to one domain of space (telecommunications, observation of the Earth etc.) or are generic (structural materials, optical materials, power electronics etc.).


The aims of the programme are:

- to consolidate scientific and technical potential in the domain of innovative space technologies;
- to prove the applicability of space technologies through concrete examples, either within or outside the domain of space;
- to support the transfer of knowledge and methods from the domain of space to other domains of application through appropriate research.

C. Standardization


All activities relating to standardization and technical regulations have undergone a profound evolution over the last decade, characterised by the fact that decisions on this issue are now increasingly taken at European level.

The resolution by the European Council of Ministers (resolution of 07/05/1985) was the instigation behind this process, which aimed to adopt the 'new approach' towards the implementation of technical directives, with a view to encouraging evaluation to move in the direction of a single market.

The European standardization bodies (CEN, CENELEC, ETSI etc.) and those of the member states play an important role in the realization of activities relating to standardization and technical regulations, both in the matter of the establishment of a single market and in the improvement at individual level of a number of factors such as the safety and hygiene of products, the environment etc.

A significant number of the decisions currently being made by the various member states on the matter of European regulations relate to standardization, with the result that the public authorities, like the other players involved, are having to improve their results in the field of standardization and technical regulations and to tackle the matter in a more formal and consistent manner than in the past. Decision-making at European level in the context of these activities has now reached a stage where only a committed and constructive approach will bear fruit.

Hence a sustained effort is called for at research and development level.


The aims of the programme are:

- to consolidate the scientific potential of all the activities relating to standardization and technical regulations in Belgium, and to generate wider interest in this specific issue in scientific circles.

- to assist the transfer of knowledge and the results of research from the academic world towards more applicable projects.

- to promote Belgium’s participation in all activities relating to European standardization and technical regulations so that Belgium can play a more prominent role in the European standardization process. This involves further developing Belgian scientific potential in this field and encouraging important players who are not sufficiently involved at present (scientists, official bodies, users/consumers etc.) to play a greater role.

Research projects:

PA/04: Performance assessment of coating systems for exterior wooden joinery

PA/09: Flexible, organic solar cells for power generating textiles SOLTEX

PA/11: Traceability rules and actions against counterfeiting for international normalization groups

PA/22: CHASM: Coping with health, environmental and safety aspects in standards for machinery

PA/28: Controlled straining tests for the adhesion and damage resistance of laser claddings (COSTA)

PA/31: Static and dynamic design analysis procedures for structures with uncertain parameters

PA/32: Rapid prototyping and manufacturing for space components


Performance assessement of coating systems for exterior wooden joinery : final report   Brussels : Federal Science Policy, 2007 (SP1828)
[To download

Flexible, organic solar cells for power generating textiles SOLTEX : final report   Brussels : Federal Science Policy, 2007 (SP1829)
[To download

TRACING : Traceability rules against counterfeiting for international normalization group : final report   Brussels : Federal Science Policy, 2007 (SP1830)
[To download

CHASM : Coping with health, environmental and safety aspects in standards for machinery : final report   Brussels : Federal Science Policy, 2007 (SP1831)
[To download

Controlled straining tests for the adhesion and damage resistance of laser claddings (COSTA) : final report   Brussels : Federal Science Policy, 2007 (SP1832)
[To download

Static and dynamic design analysis procedures for structures with uncertain parameters : final report   Brussels : Federal Science Policy, 2007 (SP1833)
[To download

Rapid prototyping and manufacturing for space components : final report   Brussels : Federal Science Policy, 2007 (SP1834)
[To download

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