Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

What is the main issue to address if we want to accelerate the transfer of research into the market?

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This year the workshop will focus, among other issues, on how to speed up the transfer of research and innovation to the market. It is well known that European excellence in research is not reflected on the market positioning. It is still cumbersome and slow to transfer knowledge from universities to companies.  

In you experience, which is the single thing that should be discussed if we want to accelerate this transfer of research into the market? Do you have any experience on how  easy/ difficult is to create a company to commercialize research results? What are the main bottlenecks?

 

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To my mind and having into account previous experiences in ICT for inclusion and design for all.... I daresay that most of the products and services produced in European research are designed without having into consideration the real needs, preferences and desires of the final customers/users... Therefore, normally it is a market failure or lack of acceptance. Normally from the research perspective we say "My idea is fantastic and will improve the quality of life of thousands of European citizens.... but I cannot sell it".
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How could then EC prevent that to happen in the R&D projects they are funding? Is there any rule /process that can be implemented in the new Horizon 2020 to accelerate tech transfer of research?
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Responding to nmajeang and also to you Laia, I think early trials and pilots that bring research results to potential users, either citizens, developers, SMEs, public institutions are a valid point to accelearte this tech tranfer. It is not only because the sooner the prototypes are used in real life situations the sooner you can validate adoption by the targetted user but also because you raised awareness of the technology, establish business connections around that technology/ideas about how to use it, etc, and in other words it helps to build the foundations of the whole ecosystem. From that perspective the pilot instrument of CIP has/had value. However this is not always enough and it needs to be complemented with either a real creation of start-ups during project (talking about webentrepreneurship), or real transfer from Reserch departments to business units in case bigger companies.
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ICT research must be link to real needs to be transferred. Today this link is not established. It can’t be made mixing pure research (10 year horizon to impact the market) with current needs. Putting together, in the same project, in the same time horizon, innovation based in the use of ICT as an enabler of new opportunities (huge potential for transferring!!!) with new research on ICT (future opportunities), is a way to develop science, but not with the aim of impacting the market. 10 years of time as market horizon is not realistic in any case on ICT. World is spinning much faster today! Suggestions: - Don’t mix pure R&D on ICT with applications close to the market. It will imply wasting money and effort in some direction. - Create programs where real multidisciplinary innovation, using and developing mature ICT solutions, could be carried on. Without the need of adding some unnecessary very complex ICT development that will never arrive to the market and that will only satisfy the objective of matching the call for proposal requirements. - Allow co-creation and new methodologies to face real demand from society and to provide real useful innovations.
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Thanks nmorsofi. Do you have any good example / best practice of co-creation and those new methodologies applied that have been translated into a successful product/ service in the market?
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In this blog you can find examples of effective innovation cased on co-creation
http://innovationforgrowth.wordpress.com/
And here some projects
http://www.openlivinglabs.eu/news/enoll-strategic-project-involvement

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I see nmajeang's point but there are other elements to be considered. On the one hand we need new funding mechanisms for innovation, more flexible and agile. On the other hand education in Europe is still highly theoretical and not business oriented, so that entrepreneurs fail in identifying potential business opportunities stemming from basic research
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I agree with nmurefra that access to funding mechanisms for innovation are key for European SMEs and entrepreneurs. My point is that there is also a need to assess research and pilots' results in order to scale-up results, exchange best practices and focus on aspects that could be improved.
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Europe is not great when it comes to commercializing research: that's a well known story. What is less known, and more interesting, is that today it's not just about IF, but WHEN. Especially in ICT, when innovation is fast evolving, time-to-market is one of the most important competitive advantages. We live in the times of open innovation, when research is often carried out outside companies and traded (see OECD Open Innovation report). My impression is that our research centres are not just reluctant, but slow when it comes to commercialising research. The process is too bureaucratic. And this slowness is a bottleneck to the competitive advantage of EU companies. Can we have a fast-track to technology transfer? But this is just an impression: what do other, more expert, people think?
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Dear David, I agree, we've talked with quite the public entities that need to drive regional economic boosts, that commercial research is difficult and lacks power. Time to market but also the applicability of research in practical solutions to needs can be better.
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Several of the preceding comments (agility, time to market, fast-track) have been characterised by Eric Reiss and others who are advocates and observers of the 'Lean Start-up' movement. This is an approach, facilitated by online technologies, for launching businesses and products. The approach relies on validated learning, scientific experimentation, and iterative product releases to shorten product development cycles, measure progress, and gain valuable customer feedback. In this way businesses can design their products or services to meet the demands of their customer base without requiring large amounts of initial funding or expensive product launches. The term Lean 'START-UP' is unfortunate, the method applies equally to established businesses developing new products and services. With apologies for cross-posting (WS6).
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Some of your comments suggest that user-led innovation or the research better oriented to user's demand will accelerate tech transfer in Europe. However, what strikes me is that there are important/ relevant examples that suggest the opposite. For instance, Weizman Institute in Israel (http://www.weizmann.ac.il/pages/technology-transfer-0). It has unique capability to turn basic research into marketable products. It has more than 1,500 families of patents and a total budget of $344,065,484 (2011). It has established close to 170 agreements with companies for them to use the results of its research and has helped the creation of more than 40 start-up companies. When you asked for instance to the President of Weizman Institute, what is their secret of their success for tech transfer: Curiosity driven research. Science can be approached in two different ways: 1) Goal-oriented research identifies a problem or market opportunity that needs to be solved or addressed. The organization then mobilizes the talent and invests the money to develop the solution and the product or service that will fill this market opportunity. (That is what your comments suggested) 2) Curiosity-driven research relies on freedom and serendipity. Researchers investigate questions because of their instincts and curiosity say that there is something relevant in there. Many inventions did not happen to solve a need or problem that society had identified. Rather, they happen without specific outright applications. ..And I think is not an isolated example. When you discuss this with other top research institutions in EU with good tech transfer results, they suggest the importance of technology-push research. so, the answer doesn't seem clear. What do others think? Should EC incentivate in their funding programs then user-driven innovation, co-creation etc. to accelerate tech transfer or not?
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We here in Dublin have been working with Intel to develop a Digital Maturity Scorecard for cities to drive advancement of digital innovation.First iteration is now complete and ready for sharing. Perhaps you might like to come along next week to Open Innovation 2.0 conference in Dublin digitaldublin.ie/openinnovation and learn what's happening in Dublin to drive research into innovation.
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Make the movement of people, researchers, business angels, businessmen more free, I propose a move towards a Euro-BRICS Schengen. One of the ways selected to help achieve these goals is that of the need for a policy of mobility for researchers, i.e. obtaining visas or facilitating work permits. On this question, an ambitious proposal has to be formulated , that of creating a Euro-BRICS Schengen allowing free-movement of people between these countries. Such a construction would constitute an extremely strong political signal in favour of the establishment of privileged relations in this direction. In addition, Schengen answers an economic rationale of the modernization of the management of human flows more than a disappearance of borders. Note that, many border crossings between the various Euro-BRICS members are already free of all visa restrictions (Brazil- South Africa, Brazil-Russia, Europe…). The putting in place of such an experiment could be done gradually, starting with the Kaliningrad enclave, then evaluation, decision, a further stage, evaluation, decision, etc…

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I guess I'm a little different because I don't like theory as much as practice. So I look at the ec.europa domain - one of the largest domains in the world - as a prototype of all the problems to do with interactive media platform design, and as ngarcihf says "the sooner prototypes are used in real life situations the sooner you can validate adoption by the targetted user". So here we are "in" a prototype and no one's asking about how to improve it, or what one subdomain might have in common with another. e.g. Futurium and https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/page/home Are we making policy or doing open research?

Maybe I'm too simple. If you pay people for research, you will just get research = produce papers. Somewhere over the last 20 years the D was dropped from R&D. So why wouldn't you just pay people to develop, or prove proof-of-concept. At least that may be some way of developing new markets, rather than trying to satisfy existing ones, and that's an equal part of the R&d cycle'. i.e. you can't transfer to a market that doesn't exist. Many times an invention is about satisfying two distinct markets to grow a much larger one. e.g. iphone. N.B Innovation, I define as the social response to an invention (like the world wide web)

These days, most of the big growth (job) markets are about Global Interactive media (e.g. Google, FB, etc) not National Broadcast or ICT (e.g. IBM, VRT/RBTF, Belgacom). In themselves, new media players are changing every other "market" including the way education and research is done.

In Europe it appears, public policy makers are so busy trying to figure out how every researcher should learn how to commercialize & transfer research, they never have time to understand & develop their own market, product or service. The ec.europa (media) domain is just a good practical illustration. Designed for an internal markets, not an external ones.

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The EU action plan on Ageing Well in the Information Society was launched in 2007. Since then many projects, under FP7, AAL and CIP were funded and developed and the lack of results has been broadly studied along these years.

Identified barriers were of different nature. Interoperability issues need an approach based on technical development and consensus agreement.

Usability and acceptability are conveniently solved using user centric design, co-creation, etc. Business model development has to be creative and push public-private cooperation.

But all that is not enough. Our society has become so complex that some sectors, like ICT for ageing and health, cannot be designed in the lab. The extraordinary complexity of the combination of public, private, social, personal, political stakeholders can only by faced by building bottom-up consensus approaches.

This is what is going on in the Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Aging. Despite my initial reluctance I am happy to admire how it seems to be working and how committed people and entities are working together.

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This week, we, the partners of the European Project FIRE (http://www.trustworthyictonfire.com/) have participated in productive and interesting meeting. FIRE aims to reduce the gap between industry and research in Europe in trustworthy ICT.

The meeting was about sharing the performed analysis of some specific sectors and their current gap on secure ICT. The sectors were financial, energy, telcos, Health, eGovernment.

When talking about financial, health and eGoverment we realized that some of the unsolved problems seem to have a similar nature, that technology could help, but with the current available technology! Why is it not been used then?
Obviously technology is not the answer to the questions.

In all the three sector we found that: Big complex systems in the technical, but mainly, in the personal, and organizational sense, include underlying forces that create strong difficulties for proper trustworthy ICT development.

For example, into the eHealth sector secure data storage and management need authentication from all general practitioners when they access patient’s data. It can be done with any token (ID card, RFID, etc), passwords, biometry, etc. There are many technical solutions. But they are not used and the threat of mal use of health records is growing.

Haw could it be solved? Does any further research need to be developed?

The answer is yes. But it should not be a research with the aim of more tech development. It could be, but it is not mandatory. Is should be a research based on how to use enabling technologies that could be accepted, easy to use, and respectable with the everyday work of hospitals. Similar examples were found in the other sectors.

But is the other hand we agreed that user involvement is not a panacea. It is necessary at some stages of research, closer to the maturity of technology. But pure technology research could be constrained by premature user involvement.

Conclusion: User involvement is sometimes necessary, but not always, not even frequently. Why, when and how should be clearly defined before planned.

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Sofía: you are right. User involvement is not a panacea. Yet, customer involvement is for sure important (though not always) for market success

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