Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Can we think of a strong ICT industrial strategy for Europe, accelerating innovation and technology transfer to the market?

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Let's take the example of the micro- and nanoelectronics sector. In the last week, a strategy for this sector was announced with the ambition to facilitate industry investments of 100 billion euros and help create 250,000 jobs in Europe up to 2020 (https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/electronics). It aims to maintain Europe at the leading edge in the design and manufacturing of micro- and nanoelectronics, and to provide benefits across the economy.

In order to bridge the gaps between research and product commercialisation, the so-called "valley of death" identified by the Key Enabling Technologies report, new research transfer and innovation instruments such as pilot lines have been called for by the stakeholders. Last May 29, The Commission launched 5 major electronics pilot line projects, the first essential steps in the European Electronics strategy (https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/electronics-strategy-europe). Pilot lines link-up European manufacturers, technology companies, chip designers, researchers, and universities at the very beginning of product development to develop innovative microchips which give European industry and products a globally competitive edge!   This strategy, the need for prioritisation, for creating critical mass investments around agreed priorities together with the right flanking measures, was applauded by all the industry, academia and government representatives present at the event.

What can we learn from this example? How can we further translate research and innovation into jobs and growth, for this sector and for other industrial sectors such as photonics, robotics, networks, service infrastructures?

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It is quite hard to get a PhD, the formal accreditation for conducting scientific research. PhDs get trained in this mindset and therefore specific skill sets are developed. However 80% of European companies are SMEs. Most of them do not even know what scientific is, and even less, how they can make use of research to gain competitive advantages. On the other hand, researcher's work is recognised when their research is published in scientific journals, and this is a very hard job. So we do have a very tough road ahead. I would like to discuss with contributors to this group in order to identify which are the challenges ahead. My first contribution is that we should foster multidisciplinary profiles, for instance, professionals who know about research, engineering and business. This is something that particularly works well on the Web and Internet-based businesses.

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How could we then bridge the distance between academia and business preservating the essentials of both? How are other countries doing? Any good practice to learn about it? https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/content/share-inspiring-examples-...

 

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I found interesting the results of this analysis: http://www.socialsciences.leiden.edu/cwts/research/uirc-scoreboard-2013..... UIRC 2013 is metrics-based scoreboard on university-industry research connections and cooperation. It includes data on the world's top 500 research universities.
The Universities are ranked according the university-industry co-publications (UICs) produced by each university. Each UIC contains an author affiliate address referring to that ‘source’ university and at least one address referring to a business enterprise. These co-authored publications represent a visible link between a university and industry. They reflect successful research cooperation and other research-related connections with the business sector.
Have a look to European university. A European common strategy of growth policies directed to fund innovation and attract talents and investors is urgently needed to close the gap among Southern and Northern EU countries.

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Thanks Valentina, very interesting data! Apart from co-pulibcations how could we measure cooperation between universities-industry? 

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My experience in academia is that many, many academics are really very interested in working with industries (large and small) to help accelerate transfer of their best ideas in innovative products and services. But the academic system still puts most weight on producing more and more papers in more and more journals with less and less increments to the state of the art. Hence, I think that there is only one solution to increasing tech transfer and that is by changing the academic system: as soon as innovation and tech transfer are getting the same weight as papers in one's academic file, academics will feel more at ease during the often long and painstaking process of tech transfer. Other simple changes in the academic system that can help are:
- allowing professors and postdocs to work for short amounts of time in companies, without loosing any academic credits (on the opposite, they should gain credits);
- similarly, accepting company engineers into academic research groups for short "embeddings" into one particular new form of technology or paradigm;
- limiting the number of papers that are counted for an academic file to just one per year;
- forgetting about the impact factors for a decade, so that academics have the time to start up their own fully open access journals without any interference by the commercial publishers; they have a stronghold on the academic community by means of those impact factors, and _only_ by that means;
- organising direct peer review scoring amongst the academic community: currently, it is not a technical problem at all to let every academic vote, say every two years, for its peers, with a total of say 100 votes to be distributed. This results in direct peer review assessment, instead of the extremely indirect peer review assessments via impact factors, h-indexes, etc.
These suggestions are all probably too simple for academic gouvernments, because it reduces their impact and importance.
Other suggestions in the same direction, but that do have some financial repercussions:
- reduce the number of funding agencies and programmes at the national and regional levels, since they are most of the time in direct competition with the European funding instruments;
- allow automatic extension of EC-funded projects, for a short time and with a very clear innovation agenda, when they have created results that are close to tech transfer.

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