Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission

Navigation path

Better investment = better innovation: a radical shift for EU research in ICT

In my current role with the Digital Agenda I think a lot about innovation. The Internet enables a whole new kind of innovation: using new networks like collaborative platforms, or new techniques like data-mining. But innovation and research are also what enables the digital revolution in the first place – by helping create the technologies, the devices, the networks, and the business models that underpin the digital revolution. EU funding supports much of that research and innovation – like for the micro- and nano-electronics chips that sit under the bonnet of so much new innovation; or technologies like photonics and robotics that can help us out in fields from manufacturing to healthcare. The next generation of EU research support, Horizon 2020, makes it easier to seek funding, easier to bring good ideas to market, and easier for Europe to invest in innovation for the future. And our proposal would offer €80 billion in investment, around one fifth of which for ICT. But I've been thinking about how we can make that support for ICT even more effective: more challenging and disruptive, more coherent, and better able to boost Europe's competitiveness. And today I unveiled some detailed ideas for how we do that:
  • to make research and innovation support more challenging, like by setting aside funds specifically for open, disruptive innovation of the kind that can really challenge and change things; prizes for those who solve major challenges; using public procurement to stimulate innovation (while saving taxpayers' money); and being more responsive in how we manage, prioritise or halt projects.
  • to make it more coherent, we need to break free of subject silos. Think of smart cities, where solutions aren't just confined to one box, but could solve environmental, transport, social and industrial goals. So I think we should have more "open calls" that aren't tied down to a single "social challenge". Plus I want more open innovation, getting feedback and peer review at every stage of the innovation process; and more policy coherence too (like looking at the copyright rules that inhibit powerful techniques like data-mining).
  • and so that research and innovation boosts competitiveness, we should get businesses and investors involved more fully and earlier on, to ensure we translate our efforts into real products, services and jobs. And help smaller businesses, too: because they're the real engine of innovation in our economy.
Research and innovation can power our future; they are the best way to invest in future growth and jobs. We do it better if we work together as the EU – allowing significant economies of scale, given that benefits often spill across borders. And in a changing world, we can do it better still with a transformed approach to ICT research and innovation—starting from now.


  • Mrs Kroes   I'm fully agree whit you about the need of a diferent mix in the investment pot in the sector. The question is how. The reality is that the main actors of this play are the operators that represent more of 75% the total capex, in the second place are the network suppliers and far away the rest, software companies... Recently you have support heavly  the deployment of fiber around every place in europe, this invesment could eliminate any other posibility to push the innovation, in my opinion this very haigh capacity networks only bebefit to the usa media companies beacause the mass consumer use them massivly for entertainment. Why not suppot more the mobility concept, all the innovation is around the mobility concept more that the very high capacity networks. We need to be coheret people.   Thank you very much
  • Very good ideas ! At the start, the EU must check on  " Data Brokers "  and Privacy Laws, since they conflict many times. A very fast and wide Wi-Fi network so that all can get broadband everywhere and since Wi-Fi is perhaps the most efficient method .Video and TV streaming everywhere and on all browsers and platforms ( HTML5 is the best start ) and since the Spectrum belongs to the Taxpayers. Cognitive radios and smart antennas need R&D , and so do 3D printing and robotics from an early age, in all schools. And of course, a huge push towards an  " APPLICATION INDUSTRY ",  the apps business , for Apple, Android, RIM, MS, Nokia-Linux ( the Nokia-Windows again is making so many "mistakes" , it's  not even fun anymore and feels  " fabricated " to crash Nokia's stock -Market Cap and get Nokia's  8 billion Euros patent portfolio and 3 billion Euro cash position for free, shame ! ) , and  an open apps base for all and to be able to bring their ideas to markets , the best medicine against Monopolies and stagnation. Open competition between chip makers, including ARM designs, Intel, AMD-Global Foundries,TI, STMicro , Infineon, Nvidia, etc., and all the smaller shops, everyone of them has something very important to offer, the solution is to make sure everyone can get to market, and that's why the exclusive deals between Nokia and Qualcomm-MS smells and feels so bad, so anti-European,  shame ! Good luck on your difficult work.
  • It's a view for sore eyes to see some policy-maker giving serious thought on copyright, rather than preserving status-quo at all costs. Thank you.
  • Please, keep going.  Open is the answer.... Thank you, for your vision and efforts.  
  • How about simple ?  Copyright protecting originators for one life sentance ?  1) Copyright period is 25yrs maximum, then public domain.  2) Copyright belongs solely to the originator (who can then contract out, but the partners still don't own the right)  3) And that is IT - no extensions, no corporations, no 'family' rights to milk the dead cow.
  • Good article, Thank you
  • I think Alfonso Alonso's comment is very correct. The infrastructure the EU is placing up is connecting everyone but the business side of it isnt panning out to well. China and India have more local competition for the USA's online service firms. The EU needs the same.

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Share this