Barroso calls for greater collaboration to ensure progress on innovation

To remain competitive globally, Europe has to change innovation from a buzzword to a byword, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso told European industrial leaders on 6 December.

To do so requires working together to solve the European paradox, whereby Europe has the necessary knowledge and research, but then fails to take this knowledge to market, said the Commission President.

But "improving Europe's performance doesn't just depend on more start ups, or better protection for end products," said Mr Barroso. "It also depends on everything in between. We need to look at the whole chain of the innovation process." This ranges from having the people with the right education and skills, to ensuring that the means are available to finance the right projects.

Mr Barroso pointed to some 'deep changes' already afoot, which he said should help to open the way for innovation. They include the implementation of the Better Regulation Initiative, which has seen the removal of 68 unnecessary proposals from the pipeline; and the Innovative Action Plan, which outlines 10 points on areas where progress on innovation can be made.

But the competition out there is stiff, Mr Barroso reminded his audience, particularly among new emerging competitors, who are moving into high-value markets and can offer lower cost equivalents. 'Their increased investment means we need a new response,' he added.

Key to this new response is finding new ways to collaborate and bring all the elements needed for innovation together. According to Mr Barroso, the proposed European Institute of Technology does just that. It aims to create 'knowledge and innovation communities' involving the three key elements of the knowledge triangle: universities, research organisations and industry. With a proposed budget of €2.4 billion for 2008 to 2013, the EIT would help gather the best of Europe to work on key technologies for industry, said Mr Barroso.

Another initiative which is likely to help Europe bring together the main innovation players is the soon-to-be launched Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the priorities of which, the Commission president noted, had been drawn up in close consultation with industry. "FP7 will address major innovation challenges across the board, with projects open to research organisations and firms from around the world."

The European Technology Platforms (ETPs) are also expected to pave the way for future innovation initiatives, and industrial leaders are already working to define potential lead markets. Piloting actions to test these concepts could take place as early next year, suggested Mr Barroso. In addition, FP7 will also see the launch of the first Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), which Mr Barroso described as "another major leap forward, with a new type of public/private partnership".

He noted that progress made within FP7 would be further complemented by other new initiatives such as the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) for access-finance schemes, the European Research Council (ERC) for frontier research; and the Risk Sharing Facility fund for financing high-risk research and development projects.

The Commission President rounded up, saying: "It's clear that we have the innovative potential in Europe...The question now is how we take this forward - and how far."

For more information on FP7, please visit:
http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/

For information on ETPs, please visit:
http://cordis.europa.eu/technology-platforms/home_en.html

For more information about the proposed EIT, please visit:
http://ec.europa.eu/education/
policies/educ/eit/index_en.html

Copyright ©European Communities, 2006
Neither the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, nor any person acting on its behalf, is responsible for the use, which might be made of the attached information. The attached information is drawn from the Community R&D Information Service (CORDIS). The CORDIS services are carried on the CORDIS Host in Luxembourg - http://cordis.europa.eu. Access to CORDIS is currently available free-of-charge.

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