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A new group to help British construction firms take advantage of European funds for research and development is to be launched by construction minister Tony Baldry next week.The European Commission, through science and research directorate DG12, is doubling funds for R and D for 1994-98 to around £10 billion.A 'scene setting' paper outlining how those funds will be distributed is now being drawn up in Brussels and will be published before the end of the year.And to ensure British firms are involved, the Construction Industry European Research Club has been set up by the Construction Industry Council and the Construction Industry Employers Council.Backing has also come from the Department of the Environment and the Building Research Establishment.Membership of CIERC will be open to all companies and organisations in the construction industry.Commission officials are keen that funds should be distributed to individual European industries and not to individual member states, so successful bidders are likely to have partners from different European countries.One of those involved in setting up CIERC is Dr Roger Brown, until recently assistant managing director of Taywood Engineering.He said: 'This is terribly important if we want to maintain European competitiveness in the face of competition from Japan and the US.'CONSTRUCTION NEWS