The European Commission has called for a European effort to boost key enabling technologies (KETs). The global market in KETs, which comprises micro- and nanoelectronics, advanced materials, industrial biotechnology, photonics, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing systems, is forecast to grow from €646 billion to over €1 trillion between 2008 and 2015; this is a jump of over 54%, or more than 8% of the EU’s GDP. Rapid growth in jobs is expected, too. In nanotechnology industries alone, the number of jobs in the EU is expected to increase from 160 000 in 2008, to around 400 000 by 2015. Full story
Showcasing regional innovation
The Innovation CIRCUS initiative employed fun activities to raise public awareness and appreciation of the innovative process through regional Innovation Weeks in several partner regions. Thanks to the success of the events, this idea is now going Europe-wide, with EU backing.
This year has been designated as the European Year of Creativity and Innovation which "aims to raise awareness of the importance of creativity and innovation for personal, social and economic development". Aimed at young people, educators, businesses, policy-makers, civil society and the public at large, the Year encompasses everything from fun activities through exhibitions to awards.
In the same spirit, Innovation CIRCUS - a project under the umbrella of PRO INNO Europe® initiative, which is the EU's "focal point for innovation policy analysis, learning and development" - helped shed light on innovation and give it the credit it is due.
The project, which ran between 2006 and 2008, brought together regional partners from the Baltic States, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Poland to bring innovation out of the lab and into the public domain. Innovation CIRCUS examined and identified the economic, social and cultural innovation drivers, and raised awareness of innovation-related issues among key stakeholders involved in national and regional innovation policies. Its activities included the identification of key innovators in society, including school children and hobby experimenters, as well as advanced research laboratories and cutting-edge innovative enterprises.
Like its name suggests, the project was something of a travelling CIRCUS, with four regional events held under its auspices: in Riga (LV), Berlin (DE), Milan (IT) and Copenhagen (DK). Each focused on specific topics such as innovation among children, the impact of innovation on urban development, and life-improving innovations.
Based on the outcome of the events, as well as hundreds of interviews and case studies, Innovation CIRCUS made five key recommendations for policy-makers: to increase the focus on innovation in the educational system; to fertilise multidisciplinarity; to develop new platforms for innovation dialogue and information; to involve the public in innovative processes; and to enhance strategies and tools for attracting researchers and other innovators.
The four regions involved also put on their own local Innovation Weeks. In Riga, this included science cafes, a robotics contest, as well as games, quizzes and competitions. The event was such a success that other municipalities decided to organise similar events, and the government has indicated that it could fund Innovation Weeks under a new science and society programme.
The Milan Innovation Week included forums, interactive exhibitions, such as one on innovations in daily use, shows, guided tours, workshops, and projections of the future, not to mention a presence in the virtual world of Second Life.
In Berlin, the Week took place in the neighbourhood of the Technical University and the University of Arts, a creative milieu which is home to over 6 000 researchers and 30 000 students. The events revolved around the creative link between science and art, focusing on the future in the shape of emerging cultures, industries and technologies, including the progression from idea to innovation.
Copenhagen pursued a thematic approach dedicated to a different theme each day: innovation at school, ongoing innovation, industrial innovation, innovation video portraits and public sector innovation.
Following the success of the Innovation Weeks organised by Innovation CIRCUS, the EU has decided to fund, under the PRO INNO Europe® initiative, similar events across Europe from 2009 to 2011. The European Innovation Weeks, which will take place in parallel in different European regions, will provide citizens with insight into innovation, showcasing regional excellence and innovativeness and highlighting the innovation potential of local companies.
The Weeks will help build a strong regional innovation identity and raise the region's international profile, stimulating dialogue between the different innovation stakeholders and players.
Support for Innovation Unit,
Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry
The text only of the articles can be republished as long as the source of the article is quoted: Enterprise & Industry magazine (http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/magazine/index_en.htm), © European Union, 2008 - 2012