The European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries & Associations have launched the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a joint $3 billion effort that aims to remove drug discovery bottlenecks and accelerate the development of new medicines in the European Union. The public-private partnership will have a total budget of $3 billion through 2013. This year, grants of nearly $200 million will be made to what are judged to be the most promising research projects in the areas of brain disorders and metabolic and inflammatory diseases. Future IMI grants will also cover cancer and infectious diseases. The initiative is an acknowledgment of Europe's declining importance in the global pharmaceutical industry. Up to 1998, the commission points out, some seven out of 10 new medicines originated in Europe; that success rate now is about three out of 10. "IMI is about pooling public and private efforts so that Europe can be a big player," says Janez Potocvnik, European science and research commissioner. IMI is the latest in a series of research projects established under the commission's Joint Technology Initiatives program. Others are in embedded computing systems, aeronautics and air transport, nanoelectronics, and fuel cells and hydrogen.