EU Innovation Union – new programme under Europe 2020 strategy
Innovation in its widest sense represents fresh thinking which provides value. It is our capacity to achieve the future we desire. As such, innovation provides new sources of growth.
The gradual emergence of the EU from the financial crisis, coupled with the need to tackle global challenges, has rendered innovation more crucial than ever. Challenges such as climate change, energy, food security, health and an ageing population can only be solved through innovative, new solutions.
Looking back, we can see almost 20 years of EU-level innovation policy, remarkable achievements and a continuous improvement of Europe’s innovation performance. However the world is changing rapidly, as this is the nature of innovation, and it is against this background that the Commission has prepared, as part of the Europe 2020 strategy, its proposal for an "Innovation Union".
Antonio Tajani at the press conference on Innovation Union on 6th of October 2010
The Innovation Union focuses on innovation which addresses the major social challenges identified in Europe 2020, pursues a broad concept of innovation and aims to involve all stakeholders and regions in the innovation cycle.
Its underlying objectives are the following:
Strengthening Europe's knowledge base and reducing fragmentation - by promoting excellence in education and skills development, delivering the European Research Area and promoting the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
As a recent study has demonstrated, meeting our target of investing 3 percent of GDP in R&D could create 3.7 million jobs and increase annual GDP by up to €795 bn by 2025.
Getting good ideas to the market - by enhancing access to finance for innovative companies, creating a single innovation market, promoting openness and capitalising on Europe's creative potential.
Removing social and geographic disparities -by spreading the benefits of innovation across the EU with smart specialisation and higher social benefits (with public sector and social innovation).
Pooling forces to achieve breakthroughs - by launching specific initiatives, called "European Innovation Partnerships", aimed at simultaneously tackling all bottlenecks, on both the supply and demand side, and bringing the benefits of innovation to ordinary Europeans as quickly as possible.
Note: comparisons based on latest available data: 2008 for all indicators except: international co-publications (2009); most cited publications (2007); public private co-publications (2007); PCT patents (2007); KIA employment (2007). For China: data not available for new doctorate degrees, venture capital, cost of patents, KIA employment.
Examples of key policies include:
Access to finance - surveys continuously show that companies consider poor access to finance the biggest barrier to innovation, right next to red tape.
Public investment should help leverage private investment. To date, the €400m contribution from the EU's Competitiveness and Innovation Programme to loan guarantees and Venture capital has leveraged investments of €9bn, benefitting some 70 000 small businesses.
This, however, is not enough. Europe invests some €15bn less a year in venture capital than the US. The Innovation Union therefore proposes a cross-border venture capital regime, work with the European Investment Bank to scale up current EU financial schemes and the appointment of a leading figure to strengthen cross-border matching of innovative firms with investors.
Procurement of innovation - public bodies spend over €2trillion on supplies, labour and services every year. Little of this money goes to innovative products and services – a huge wasted opportunity.
The reasons are wrong incentives, lack of knowledge and capabilities and fragmentation in demand. We will therefore provide financial support for public authorities across the EU to develop tools like innovative specifications.
Design thinking -although often associated with aesthetics and the ‘look’ of products, the application of design is much broader. It is increasingly recognised as a key discipline and activity in bringing ideas to market, transforming them into user-friendly, appealing and high quality products.
When applied to services, systems and organisations, user-centred design thinking drives business model innovation, organisational innovation and other forms of non-technological innovation.
We will therefore launch a European Design Innovation Initiative, an open and flexible platform for working out concrete proposals on how to better integrate design, user aspects and other non-technological aspects into innovation policy and support.
Public sector innovation - building on the success of the European Innovation Scoreboard, which measures innovation performance in EU countries and provides incentives and evidence for national policy measures, we will pilot a European Public Sector Innovation Scoreboard, to share information on the characteristics of public sector innovation and, over time, evidence for effective policy making and benchmarking.
Social innovation - in 2011, the Commission will launch a European social innovation pilot, which will provide expertise and a "virtual hub" for social entrepreneurs and the public and non-profit sectors.