European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "Innovation is not only the result of the work of inventors, researchers and engineers. Also demand led innovation can be powerful, thereby helping European industry to become more competitive and to become innovation leader for a series of industrial goods, at the same time addressing societal challenges. We need such ideas to spur growth as this is the only way to get out of the current economic crisis."
The European Commission has launched a public consultation with the aim to gather inputs from stakeholders and citizens on the scope of possible future EU-level actions in demand-side policies for industrial innovation policy.
Consumers and public procurers should not underestimate their power to spur industrial innovations, for example by buying products which consume less energy and/or are friendlier to the environment. The Commission is therefore calling for ideas for potential new policy measures and focus areas for future targeted demand-side innovation actions at EU level, to enable faster uptake of innovations and to create a better environment for creating innovations in order to maintain the value chain and business investments in Europe.
As Europe (at EU, Member States and regional levels) now has some initial experience in demand-side policies and the political and economic priorities are clear, the leverage potential of using these policies increases and more sectors could benefit from them. A menu of policy tools is in place but can be further elaborated. There is room and need for tailoring tools and support mechanisms by market sector.
These ideas were reflected in the European Council Conclusions 1-2 March 2012:
“Creating the best possible environment for entrepreneurs to commercialise their ideas and create jobs and putting demand-led innovation as a main driver of Europe's research and development policy”
For example, if coach operators would bundle their orders asking car manufacturers to fit the roof of busses with solar panels, industry could produce such coaches at larger scale and at lower price. These busses would not only help to reduce CO2 emissions, they could even trigger similar demand for vans or passenger cars, thus enabling mass production of innovative cars at larger scale.
There is a vast potential in harnessing the demand-side in innovation policy development to support European industry. In times of crisis we need measures to help turn innovative ideas into new marketable products and services, creating jobs and growth in Europe. The well-functioning of EU internal market for innovations should be ensured.
The public consultation runs until 23/09/2012.