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Headlines Published on 14 December 2005

Title Innovation for Europe – best laid plans… in action

From patent clerk to patently the best-known scientists of our times, Einstein – or at least his famous hairline – adorns the cover of the latest issue of European Innovation. Formerly known as Innovation and Technology Transfer, this bi-monthly magazine covers the latest developments in innovation policy and practice around the EU. Feature stories this issue are on alternatives to animal testing and intellectual property rights.

The bi-monthly European Innovation is published in six languages including Polish. © European Commission
The bi-monthly European Innovation is published in six languages including Polish.
© European Commission
In the November edition of European Innovation, an EU official speaks about the European Commission’s new action plan for research and innovation “aimed squarely at boosting economic growth” and encouraging job creation – key Lisbon goals. This new common strategy brings together a range of different measures and initiatives to be taken at EU and national levels in the coming two to three years. The interview looks at both the background and the expected results of the action plan.

Substituting new testing methods in place of animal testing is the subject of the first feature article. In many cases, the innovation required to replace animal testing can represent a significant opportunity for many firms to improve their processes, and of course those firms that take a lead in developing new methods can gain ground over their competitors, the article suggests.

“It is now widely accepted that alternatives which do not harm animals must be developed. But it is less broadly appreciated that societal pressures to innovate in industries, such as cosmetics, can also stimulate firms to improve productivity,” notes the editorial to the November issue.

“The EU is taking the lead in developing alternative methods but – once accepted – these will be used worldwide. And the companies that are involved from the beginning in developing new methods should reap significant benefits.”

Inroads are already being made, thanks to EU-funded research projects. And, according to the article, cosmetics manufacturers have been developing innovative alternatives to animal testing to demonstrate product safety, including in vitro studies and computer-based structure-function analysis. “These new methods are also faster, more reliable and cheaper than animal testing,” it says.

Patent pending?
The second feature in the November issue looks at how much intellectual property rights (IPR) – and specifically patents – can foster innovation. IPR systems are an important part of the innovation and new product development cycle, but critics argue that too many patents are being granted and that the system could be stifling innovation instead of encouraging it. The article ‘IPR – an incentive for innovation?’ examines both sides of the story.

Meanwhile, the ‘IRC Newsletter’ section of the 32-page magazine celebrates ten years of the Information Relay Centres Network. We learn how the Network helped a Finnish software firm (Simtech Systems) successfully spin-off from VTT, the country’s largest research organisation, and build its customer base Europe-wide. We look at what the Fish Technology Thematic Group has done to help technology transfer in the aquaculture and fisheries sectors.

Other articles look at the new Europe Innova initiative launched by the Commission; a survey that shows European citizens are attracted by new products; the importance of start-up firms working with universities; and an on-line training package for managers of incubators.

The magazine, published simultaneously in English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish, also gives a rundown on recent publications and forthcoming events in the European innovation field.

Source:  European Commission, European Innovation


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