Lead Market Initiative – speed up time-to-market of innovations and pilot new innovation policy in Europe
The Lead Market Initiative (LMI) is the European innovation policy for 6 important sectors that are supported by actions to lower barriers to bring new products or services onto the market.
The European Commission, Member States and industry have worked together to carry out the action plans for the 6 Lead Markets in the last 4 years.
The policy instruments deal with regulation, public procurement, standardisation and supporting activities. These “demand-side innovation policy instruments” are public measures to increase the demand for innovations and to improve the conditions for the uptake of innovations. Using these tools, the LMI targeted the following markets: eHealth, protective textiles, sustainable construction, recycling, bio-based products and renewable energies.
The official presentation to the Member States of the final evaluation of this initiative took place on the 6 July. The evaluation report states that: "The overall judgement on the Lead Market Initiative (LMI) is that it has promoted the development of an important new element in innovation policy, provided indications of how co-ordinated demand-side initiatives might operate more extensively at a European level, and delivered developments that are of some importance for at least four of the six markets (bio-based products, eHealth, protective textiles, sustainable construction)."
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Enterprise and Industrial policy, said: "The LMI represents an important shift in the innovation policy thinking in Europe; and addressed a major gap in innovation policy. Promising results in the action plans are evident. However, we must ensure that adequate follow-up and dissemination of the results is achieved amongst Member States, industry and other stakeholders for maximum impact."
Examples of actions accomplished through the LMI:
Bio based products
- Mandates for several new European standards in the area of bio based products, such as bioplastics that are used in packaging, have been issued and accomplished. Good industry standards are a decisive tool in international competition, as they will lead to higher use in supply chains, can ease consumers' life, and promote sustainability.
- The main success within eHealth has been in supporting greater interoperability through actions such as the establishment of the CALLIOPE network interoperable eHealth services and the epSOS (Smart Open Services for European Patients) project, which tests new solutions for in situ for the medical treatment of citizens while abroad by providing health professionals with the necessary patient data.
- ENPROTEX, the first network of Public Authorities responsible for buying innovative protective textiles through public procurement processes, was established. This network focuses particularly on the fire and rescue services,
- To some extent, the LMI has helped to raise the profile of demand-side factors in environment policy. Most notable achievement has been the revision of the Waste Framework Directive.
- The action plan included removing barriers to the integration of renewable energy sources in the EU energy system and simplifying authorisation procedures. Many of the action plan's actions have been followed up, however, this has been within other policy frameworks (e.g. SET Plan, RES Directive),
- The LMI provided added value to the sector by devising a programme of pragmatic, inter-related actions, that have been able to act as a focus for achieving important changes (e.g. public procurement networks, skills, SME needs) and engaged new stakeholder groups.
- Establishing a Network of Public Authorities which connects public authorities looking to procure innovative and sustainable solutions within their construction projects.
The report furthermore concludes that:
- The choice of instruments (public procurement, standards, regulation and 'complementary actions') was appropriate, and provided justifiable EU-added value in most instances.
- Action plans have mostly delivered, and promising results were evident. The challenge now will be the follow-up of the actions, so that they can have a lasting impact.
- Industry representatives and other stakeholders have made a significant contribution throughout, and they have become important drivers in 3 sectors (bio-based products, eHealth and protective textiles).
Innovation policy at a European level and in Member States has been undergoing a rapid development, especially since the launch of Europe 2020 and the associated Flagship Initiative ‘Innovation Union’.
At the same time, the Industry Policy Flagship prioritised a number of sectors for which the LMI-type approach could be used in the future, as well as continued; construction, textiles, chemical industry, bio-based products, KETs and resource efficiency.
The Lead Market Initiative (LMI) for Europe was launched by the European Commission following the EU's 2006 Broad based innovation strategy. The scope of the LMI, the selection of the six markets and the action plans were approved in the Competitiveness Council of May 2008. When the Lead Market Initiative (LMI) was launched in 2008, demand-side innovation policy was still embryonic in Europe.
The LMI final evaluation report has provided indications of how co-ordinated demand–side initiatives might operate more extensively at a European level. The distinctive approach developed ought to find a place in whatever framework the work continues, though hopefully also in a strengthened co-ordination with supply-side policies.