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Three pillars of disruptive innovation for Europe

Carlos Moedas – Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation

Brussels, European Parliament, 6th European Innovation Summit

Vice Chair and Honourable Member President Buzek, Honourable Member Van Nistelrooij, Commissioner Crețu, Commissioner Hogan, Commissioner Bieńkowska, esteemed guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

Before this summit, I said I would be watching closely. Watching closely and with great interest. Because it is at events such as these – when politicians, scientists, academics and industry experts meet, and ideas collide – that great momentum towards further innovation in Europe is released.

Over the next five years, I know the new Commission will be tireless in its efforts to create the right conditions for European innovation to flourish.

Research, science and innovation are not just the sum of a Commissioner’s portfolio. They are not just the domain of multinational corporations or elite academic institutions.

They touch every tiny aspect of our lives. From the way we heat our homes, to the way we run our businesses. From the way we heal our bodies, to the way we construct our buildings.

Nothing has greater power to bring about economic prosperity. Nothing will enable us to contribute more to an increasingly interconnected, global society. Nothing has greater power to secure our place on the world stage, as a continent that leads: that eats, sleeps and breathes excellence.

Nothing has more power than research, science and innovation to change lives, to change the status quo, to wake us up, to disrupt! To unleash an outpouring of transformative energy.

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This is an exciting time in Europe. We have a new Parliament and a new Commission in Brussels. The discussions which happen now, will significantly impact the course we chose to take over the next five years.

It is now that we define our priorities, our relationships with member states and each other. It is now that we define how we will take European innovation forward.

To do this we have to embrace pursuing economic growth, by changing and disrupting the world around us: ever-simplifying our interface with products, services and technology. The evolution of computer technology is a perfect example: from PCs, to laptops, from tablets, to smartwatches.

I want to grow an innovation-responsive society in Europe. An environment conducive to home-grown, 21st century, disruptive innovation, based on three distinct pillars.

  1. Adequate public and private funding of research, development and innovation.
  2. A unified research area, open to the world, with firm foundations in the Internal Market.
  3. A market environment quick to respond to innovation: making it easier for great ideas devised here to become commercial products and services: creating entirely new markets and transforming existing ones, through disruptive innovation

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Sustained innovation − making European research, science and technology better − will always be essential to our future success, but Europe requires an innovation ecosystem that goes far beyond improving what we have: we need to define new markets that allow European innovation to leap light years ahead of the competition. To create new standards and new jobs. We need to champion innovation on an epic scale.

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A European innovation ecosystem, should be one in which our endeavours to take risks, to invent, to modernise, to transform and innovate are rewarded.

An ecosystem where everyone with a great idea can access the right partners, the right investment, the right infrastructure, without the threat of excessive red tape or fear of failure.

Cutting edge science, innovative entrepreneurship, and world first research should be celebrated and supported. It is in everyone’s interests. The long term benefits will far out way the cost of navigating short term hurdles.

We have all of the right ingredients at our fingertips in Europe. An educated workforce, a strong tradition of academic excellence and a great history of technological and industrial leadership. F

Of course, as we all know, we also face a number of problems. Economic downturn, shortages of skilled workers in new and emerging sectors, climate change, funding cuts, democratic disengagement and nervous investors.

Realising ambitious innovation policies is never an easy task. Changing the status quo, exploring new territory, experimenting with new systems and strategies always comes hand in hand with the fear that we might one day make the wrong decision.

But I say that we, in Europe, have the resources, the expertise, the courage and the ability, within us, to make the right ones.

Yes we must plan with care. We must listen to each other. We must trust in our ability to reach new horizons in a sustainable and competitive way and go after those new horizons with zeal.

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We are already succeeding. Despite an overall decrease in the EU budget in the run up to 2020, we have increased funding allocated to research and innovation.

In fact this month, we were able to mobilise, together with industry, 280 million euro for the development of new Ebola vaccines and medications in an effort to save lives around the world.

We are prioritising the well-being of citizens, as well as economic growth and job creation. Such work transcends politics. It’s about building a better future for our children. Pure and simple. It may be a cliché, but it’s still the best reason to start anything in my book.

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Lithuania, where I saw a great example of the kind of new innovation infrastructure growing rapidly across Europe.

In my eyes, one thing is certain. The future of Europe lies in research, science and innovation.

Knowledge is important, turning knowledge into value is crucial. Great efforts have been made to produce the tools for a more innovation-friendly business environment in Europe, such as the unitary patent, which the Parliament welcomed, and the revised public procurement directives.

Instruments to ease access to finance are in place and about to start delivering, including reinforced debt and equity facilities and the venture capital passport, which the cooperation of the European Parliament also made possible.

Five European Innovation Partnerships have been launched in the areas of active and healthy ageing, water, agriculture, raw materials and smart cities. Now all at implementation stage. In a relatively short period of time, they have established themselves in the European research and innovation landscape: mobilising a wide range of partners.

The conditions for the completion of the European Research Area are now in place. And ERA is now synonymous with high performance; with open and attractive research systems; with ever-increasing scientific journal publications and patent applications.

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We are moving onwards and upwards, but the target to invest 3 percent of GDP in R&D is more important than ever. Europe is still underinvesting in R&D. Even though, as we exit the crisis, it is becoming increasingly clear how R&I investments have ultimately paid off. Countries that invested more in R&I before, and during, the crisis have often been the most resilient during these years of economic hardship.

At EU level, where we want to leverage more private investment, we’re asking ourselves what it is that investors will find interesting? What works and will it matter? If it matters, how will it matter? Do we have the right team? Do we have the right resources in place? Can we implement effectively? Are we asking the right questions to the right people? How can European investment become even more astonishing, even more disruptive? How can we bring new European innovation to the global market?

We are prioritising commercialisation. Turning science into technology. Bringing technology to market.

It is time for Europe to analyse the results of the Innovation Union, to learn from our experience so far. To push for further progress.

To this end, the Innovation Union is currently under review and a Stakeholder’s Conference will be held next year. To take stock and to continue the discussions on our priorities for the future.

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We will improve the framework conditions that enable the full potential of European research, science and innovation.

With the help of the European Parliament, We will ensure that the 80 billion euro Horizon 2020 programme is implemented in the most effective and efficient way.

We will defend excellence in science and research.

We will raise up the next generation of young, talented and dynamic scientists, researchers and innovators.

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Thank you for your attention, I look forward to following your discussions. Together we can rejuvenate the way we approach innovation in Europe. Only when we astonish ourselves, are we on the right track.

I look forward to working with the European Parliament and I look forward to making Europe a home of new and disruptive innovation.

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