The updating of Tuscan industry even involves the field of Biophotonics. Thanks to the BiophotonicsPlus European call for proposals, implemented with a tender process by Regione Toscana – Tuscany’s regional government – Tuscan enterprises and research bodies will be able to run innovative projects in the fields of medical diagnostics, pharmacology, laser surgery, cancer treatment, blood vessel haemostasis and ophthalmology, in partnership with other European countries.

This particularly concerns six out of the ten projects Tuscany is involved in and that were approved by the international commission that chose projects submitted by countries and regions participating in the BiophotonicsPlus consortium, the body that issued the European call for proposals. The other countries and regions participating in the consortium are Catalonia, Flanders, Germany, Israel, Latvia and the United Kingdom. The European call for proposals funds industrial research and experimental development projects in the field of Biophotonics, run by transnational partnerships between enterprises – both SMEs and larger organisations – and research centres.

The call for proposals’ total Europe-wide budget is €15 million. Tuscany has been granted a total of €3 million, €2 million of which have come from the regional government’s cofinancing programme while €1 million comes from the EU’s programme. The regional government implemented the European tender process with its own announcement, which was issued at the end of 2012.

‘Tuscany has successfully made the most of this opportunity,’ says Gianfranco Simoncini, regional councillor for Business and Industry, Employment and Education. ‘As many as ten of the projects that passed the technical evaluation stage involve Tuscan organisations, either as project leaders or as partners. Six of them have been awarded funding, with a total Europe-wide investment worth €9 million. These results justify our decision to earmark substantial regional resources to this call for proposals, sums that are more in keeping with the proportion of cofinancing granted by national governments than regional ones. One need only compare the €2 million provided by Tuscany’s regional government with the amount earmarked by countries such as Germany, which allocated €3 million. All this goes to show how important we believe it is to support research and innovation, the two elements that we believe will prove key factors in putting development once more at the forefront in our region.’

During the full proposal stage, 26 projects were submitted, 18 of which saw the involvement of Tuscan enterprises and research centres. Once the 26 submitted proposals were evaluated, 16 projects were approved, ten of which involve Tuscan organisations. Out of the 16 approved projects, 12 were awarded funding based on the available resources. Of these, six have Tuscan organisations acting either as project leaders or partners. The approved projects that were not awarded funding due to a lack of resources were placed in a reserve list and could be granted funding should any of the admitted projects withdraw.

Simoncini goes on to say: ‘We should stress the high quality and the large number of proposals submitted, all of which were the result of constructive cooperation between enterprises and research centres, representing excellence in this avant-garde field of research and high-tech industry. But that’s not all. Thanks to the quality and the number of proposals, and thanks to the particular way the European cofinancing fund works, Regione Toscana was able to obtain more EU resources than expected.’