Research, and metrology research particularly, is very expensive and requires important means, human resource as well as very sophisticated equipment. However, redundancy is essential in metrology, especially at the highest level of realization, and its must also be reconciled with a right optimization of the resource implemented.
The European Union is currently made up of 27 countries, but the association that brings together national metrology laboratories in Europe, EUROMET - European Collaboration in Measurement Standards - comprises 33 countries carrying out metrology research and development at all levels, in addition to the Commission of the European Communities laboratory.
EUROMET allows generating research and development projects in common, based on the voluntary partnership and funded by the own resource of each participating country. However, owing to the new fields that call for metrology and with growing development, such as the nanoscience, biotechnology, software programmes and modeling, the materials, health and imaging, perception metrology, safety and space, and many other areas, supplementary resource is required.
To achieve this purpose, one organisation meant for undertaking new metrology research projects should be considered: it is the i-MERA - implementing the Metrology European Research Area project..
This project, lasting three years, is led by the NPL (National Physical Laboratory – United Kingdom), and involves an ambitious final objective : one common programme for metrology research and development for Europe, the EMRP.
In the longer term it will allow obtaining supplementary funds from the European Union to support part of this European metrology research programme. But this will also call for clear organization for managing the resource and for selecting the scientific programmes, hence the necessity to secure the participation of the NMIs regulating bodies in this project.
The i-MERA project is currently involving 20 members from 14 countries, among which representatives of some Member States governments of the EU. The LNE and the French national NMIs are participating in this project.
Several stages will be required for preparing the European research programme, and that’s what is proposed by this multi-phase project :
This project was launched in 2005 and will be completed in 2008.