European Commission > Futurium > Innovation4EU > Blog post > Europe as a Platform for Innovation

Europe as a Platform for Innovation

Please join our conversation if you care about innovation, and want Europe to be a better supporter of innovation in the global 21st Century.

Innovation. What's that? The very idea of innovation has moved a long way beyond the stuff you can derive from upstream technological research. That is just one part of the many flavours of research.

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Innovation flavours


It is clearer than ever, too, that "research and development" is not the only starting point for, nor even the dominant determinant of, what innovation gets offered to society. Innovations are the outputs of a complex adaptive system.  So we need to listen to more stakeholders and connect them all with everyone else. Have we got the right map yet?
 

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We need to be much more modest than is comfortable about the scope for government to predict, procure and control innovation. And perhaps more conscious of how many ways there are for well-intended actions either to waste tax money without boosting innovation or to misapply regulation in ways that will drive innovative minds to create good things elsewhere on the planet, rather than in Europe.

If innovation is much-needed, for sustainability, for well-being and for economic resilience; if innovation is complicated and imperfectly understood: what is to be done?

Rather than tweak the pipework for public money (although that may play a minor role), what else needs to be looked at? Are your instincts and visions captured by the sorts of questions so far being asked?
 

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What can you do? Please join this Startup debate (it will not last forever!) Please share your data and knowledge. Please critique the emerging mind-maps that underpin this project.

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  • Felicia Pelagalli

    How can we help companies make the digital transformation?

    We are now going through a profound metamorphosis in the professions, in qualifications and also in the organizations themselves which means we are now experiencing a period of greater uncertainty and complexity as we search for new working patterns and increased knowhow.

    Digitalization is completely transforming the way companies work and their organization: it modifies their methods of production, reshapes their structure, introduces new ways and platforms of communication and increases skills and changes organizational culture.

    The focus point for any innovation is not only the development of digital competence but rather to help the organization change its culture.

     

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  • Antonio G. Latora

    Dear Robert,

    innovation should create value added useful for society by new innovation entities: products, services, business models, governance models, non-profit models. High level decision makers should encourage the creation of innovative entities by means of micro innovation projects into macro areas pre defined by experts and visionaries. The Innovation in SMEs model is a good work base but too bounded in themes, resources and bureaucracy.

    Antonio G Latora

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  • Antonio G. Latora

    Dear Robert,innovation should create value added useful for society by new innovation entities: products, services, business models, governance models, non-profit models. High level decision makers should encourage the creation of innovative entities by means of micro innovation projects into macro areas pre defined by experts and visionaries. The Innovation in SMEs model is a good work base but too bounded in themes, resources and bureaucracy.

    Antonio G Latora

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  • Lenard Koschwitz

    Dear Robert,

    Thanks for launching this debate. Allied for Startups is a network of Startup associations and other non-profit actors from the ecosystem and we'd be happy to contribute to this discussion. One idea that emerged with regard to the GDPR is that we would like to foster a dialogue between DPAs and Startups in order to improve the mutual understanding on both sides. Startups think out of the box and DPAs can benefit from learning about new 'flavours of innovation'. What do you think?

    Another idea could be to create a Sandbox for data-driven innovation. A place where startups can test new ideas, products and services without the risk of conflict with regulation. 

    We are happy to have this debate and contribute where we think it can improve the life of Startups in Europe!

    Kind regards,

    Lenard

    Director, EU Affairs

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  • Dragan Cisic

    Education is problem

    Problem is in European Union is bureaucratic and outdated education system. Our laws ( mainly national) are made to create expert from student, but using overcomed education principle. Comparing educational to production system, our education is very similar to Ford production, creating single product, vithout any variation. We are producing experts that are completely similar, and where is innovation when everybody thinks and acts similarly. Only persons struggling against this formal educational system, with open way of thinking are capable of innovation.

     Education is today mainly provided at universities, usually based on Middle Ages “ex-cathedra” concept, where professors are the source of knowledge. Professors are still teaching in classrooms, transferring knowledge by narration, sometimes backed by presentations and even movies, but it is still the same model from Middle Ages, where the only literate person (priest) has been reading (Bible) to the class.

    Introduction of the WEB has not changed a lot. The business as usual has been digitalized and transferred to WEB in form of first generation of e-learning. Student behaviour is almost passive, absorptive using learning enabled through a web that is limited within a single institution. Even recent developments have changed learners behaviour, and learning process is still complete linear.

    We have to create  create environment where student will be allowed to create his/hers own curriculum. Students will change role from passive recipient of knowledge to active creator of own knowledge. Furthermore they  will chose from crowdsourcing of learning materials, creating their private and personal curriculum. In innovation environment of living lab, student will also learn to use procedures for co-creation as a form of collaborative creativity. Students should become self targeted, lifelong learners achieving adaptive capability to use learned knowledge and skills flexibly and creatively

    Professors’ role will be changed to co-create, orchestrate and supervise the collaborative knowledge transfer. Professors will orchestrate student curricula. Professors will create initial curriculum materials and later coordinate co-creation with students. For students that have not adapted certain knowledge, professors will create small private online courses (SPOC).

    Curriculum will change from static to dynamic and from single discipline to interdisciplinary. Every student will create unique curriculum based on own interest and capabilities, ensuring that the quality of knowledge and understanding are basic measures of competence.

    The basic idea is to create learning environment that is similar to a living lab concept, integrating teaching, knowledge transfer and creation with concurrent research and innovation processes in quadruple helix background. This will create systematic co-creation approach in learning, teaching and research. The system will be native to mobile learning, as the extremely personal technological environment.

     One of the skills needed in the future is to understand the possibilities of other disciplines, beside one’s own specialization. Today’s classic curriculums are too rigid to meet this request. Self-adaptable curriculum will lead to creation of all possible interconnections between disciplines, allowing for the ultimate goal: the creation of multiple interdisciplinary professionals. When combining what has been learned and subjected to innovation creation experience and knowledge of technology, result will be conversion from learner to ultimate expert needed for new European industry.

     

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  • Jan Stahlberg

    Innovation and its multicoloured suit. I really like the pie chart as a way to get the thoughts flowing. But what it does not do - and the other mind maps also lack - is to convey the complexity and the constant flux that these different types of innovation find themselves in. What is also missing is some kind of that shows the interrelationship between the types or categories of innovation. There needs to be more focus on how the many sectors or stakeholders in EU influence each other's work, ideas and results.

    We need to come up with an innovation equivalent to a "hackathon" in EU where we put data, pictures, mind maps and good practice on the table and start to co-create the EU way and vision of innovation. This vision is undoubtedly wonderfully different than what can be found in the US and Asia and we should share our boldness and resolve to each other so we can use it as a spring board for our respective ambition to contribute to Industry 4.0, open innovation, digitalisation strategy etc.

    Next stage is to think big, but do it together in one spot and at one time so that we can be effective on the use of time and each other's resources. We also need to rethink the scaffolding that we build for innovation in EU. By that I mean how we support and invest in bringing innovation and prototyping into fruition and concrete results that we can harvest and profit from. What could this scaffolding look like? How will we need to rethink and disrupt the current EU Commission, its adminstration and the supporting instruments and harmonisation processes to become more innovation ready? How can we leverage most out of this scaffolding that will quick release funding, co-creation and best possible conditions for business and societal growth in EU? 

    Thanks for opening the flood gates to open, I look forward to contributing to the disruptive process that will bring EU back in the Global driving seat of innovation - perhaps we are already there, we just don't know it!

     

    Jan Ståhlberg

    Head of Strategic Partnerships

    Labster, Denmark

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  • Paolo Giudici

    Sustainalble innovation, in our current societies, can be greatly boosted by a shared, open source environment. A shared environment requires trust, and trust requires correct and transparent information on the involved parties.

     

    Europe has a great diversity of people and traditions, rooted in the history. So it has a high creativity potential. However, it is also more fragmented than other regions. 

     

    For Europe to be  a better supporter of innovation I believe we first require more communication and interaction, in an horizontal manner, among different society stakeholders, to trust each other and share. To be efficient, such sharing must be geared toward a very focused objective. 

    An example. A typical issue to be discussed:  is the amount of financial regulation is Europe proportional across countries, sectors, and operator types, in the light of the on-going technological changes? 

    Such a question can be framed in a shared debate among different operators and academics, with the aim of developing new regulations and services that can be of common advantage.

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  • Adam Watson-Brown

    Proportionality of regulation is one issue, Guido, but agility is for me the key thing.

    On fragmentation, I posted fragmentation-diversity v harmonisation as an issue here.

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  • Gudrun Magnusdottir

    The Innovative SME Perspective - See it Through

    Innovation happens all the time but taking innovation forward is the key to it being of use to our world. This requires people willing to take risks and stubborn enough to see things through. Such people are lacking in Europe. This mentality is seen as a problem not an asset. Subdued by school systems and official programmes. Risk taking people may write PhDs but being innovative makes it harder to follow mindless procedures in detail. In Horizon 2020 innovation projects, points should be given when the text of the call isn't simply cut and pasted into the proposal and something the project officers don't understand is in the text - if they or the evaluators understand it it's not innovative. Innovative SMEs that thought innovation in Horizon 2020 was for creating jobs and a vibrant Europe have now backed away. Seeing all innovation funds pour into basic research. Will academics sitting cozily in positions for life join the force of struggling SME's paving the way in Europe for jobs and a better future - without any backing. Certainly not as many as the Commission seems to hope. 

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  • Jan Stahlberg

    Disruptive innovation.

    Gudrun, you took the words right out of my mouth. Great to see a like mind thinking alike for a common purpose and fight. What a relief! 

    Horizon 2020 is an example of how EU had a brilliant vision but decended into the usual suspects. I work for one of those SMEs that saw Horizon 2020 as a way to broaden our wings in Europe. But we have been cut back in our attempt as we have dared to be different and break with the mould. We will still drive forward in our search for inter-european innovative actions - but sadly not as much through H2020 as we would have liked. The usual suspects have too much hold on both resources and processes for that to be a key driver in our cross-EU work in years to come. That is one of the points in my call for a new scaffolding for innovation and growth in Europe. 

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  • Puharre Michel

    Good point about Innovation and Education. They do not seems to fit well to-gether; nevertheless Gustave Lebon wrote in 1894 in his book "Crowds Psychology" that school systems and official programmes are not pushing young people to innovate but to follow the rules. The goal is to form civil servants not entrepreneurs. So it seems to be an ancient debate.

    By the way, in the pie there is not any part for the Education to Innovation ? (i.e. at school not only at university)

    The code week initiative from the EC is a good example of how the European commission can push young people to learn something which will enable them to create their own program. There should be such initiative reinforced by training teachers (here to code).

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