Over thirty action points are listed in the Communication on Innovation Union published on 6 October 2010.
To see the progress made in delivering these actions, check the report “State of the Innovation Union 2010-2014” (summary in this table).
Click on any title for the detailed list of initiatives planned under that chapter.
View chapter by chapter.
Promoting excellence in education and skills development
- By the end of 2011, Member States should have strategies in place to train enough researchers to meet their national R&D targets and to promote attractive employment conditions in public research institutions. Gender and dual career considerations should be fully taken into account in these strategies.
- In 2011 the Commission will, on the basis of the current preparatory work, support an independent multi-dimensional international ranking system to benchmark university performance. This will allow the best performing European universities to be identified. In 2011 further steps will be proposed in a Communication on the reform and modernisation of higher education.
The Commission will also support business-academia collaborations through the creation of "Knowledge Alliances" between education and business to develop new curricula addressing innovation skills gaps (see also commitment 3 on e-skills). They will help universities to modernise towards inter-disciplinarity, entrepreneurship and stronger business partnerships.
- In 2011, the Commission will propose an integrated framework for the development and promotion of e-skills for innovation and competitiveness, based on partnerships with stakeholders. This will be based on supply and demand, pan-European guidelines for new curricula, quality labels for industry-based training and awareness-raising activities.
- There are more details of e-skills on I3S.
Delivering the European Research Area
- In 2012, the Commission will propose a European Research Area framework and supporting measures to remove obstacles to mobility and cross-border co-operation, aiming for them to be in force by end 2014. They will notably seek to ensure through a common approach:
- quality of doctoral training, attractive employment conditions and gender balance in research careers;
- mobility of researchers across countries and sectors, including through open recruitment in public research institutions and comparable research career structures and by facilitating the creation of European supplementary pension funds;
- cross-border operation of research performing organisations, funding agencies and foundations, including by ensuring simplicity and mutual coherence of funding rules and procedures, building on the work of stakeholders, funding agencies and their representative organisations;
- dissemination, transfer and use of research results, including through open access to publications and data from publicly funded research;
- By 2015, Member States together with the Commission should have completed or launched the construction of 60% of the priority European research infrastructures currently identified by the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). The potential for innovation of these (and ICT and other) infrastructures should be increased. The Member States are invited to review their Operational Programmes to facilitate the use of cohesion policy money for this purpose.
Focusing EU funding instruments on Innovation Union priorities
- Future EU research and innovation programmes will focus on Europe 2020 objectives and particularly the Innovation Union. In 2011, looking ahead to the next financial perspectives, the Commission will set out ways for future programmes to focus more on societal challenges, streamline funding instruments and radically simplify access through a better balance between a control-based and a trust-based system. The role of the European Research Council (ERC) in promoting excellence should be strengthened and industry driven priorities reinforced (including industry driven partnerships in areas such as key enabling technologies) in the research Framework Programme.
- The Commission will design future EU research and innovation programmes to ensure simple access and stronger involvement of SMEs, in particular those with a high growth potential. Further use should be made of partnerships with Member State agencies, building in particular on the experience of the Eureka Eurostars initiative.
- The Commission will strengthen the science base for policy making through its Joint Research Centre. The Commission will also create a "European Forum on Forward Looking Activities" bringing together existing studies and data and involving public and private stakeholders to improve the evidence base of policies.
Promoting the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) as a model of innovation governance in Europe
- By mid-2011, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) should set out a Strategic Innovation Agenda to expand its activities as a showcase for Innovation in Europe. This should map out its long term development within the Innovation Union, including the creation of new KICs, close links with the private sector and a stronger role in entrepreneurship. It should also build on the EIT Foundation being set up in 2010 and on the introduction in 2011 of the "EIT degree" as an internationally recognised label of excellence.
Enhancing access to finance for innovative companies
- By 2014: on the basis of Commission proposals, the EU should put in place financial instruments to attract a major increase in private finance and close the market gaps in investing in research and innovation. Contributions from the EU budget should create a major leverage effect and expand on the success of FP7 and CIP. The Commission will work with the European Investment Bank Group, national financial intermediaries and private investors to develop proposals addressing the following critical gaps: (i) investment in knowledge transfer and start ups; (ii) venture capital for fast growing firms expanding on EU and global markets; (iii) risk-sharing finance for investments in R&D and innovation projects; and (iv) loans for innovative fast growing SMEs and midcaps. The proposals will ensure a high leverage effect, efficient management and simple access for businesses
- By 2012, the Commission will ensure that Venture Capital funds established in any Member State can function and invest freely in the EU (if necessary by adopting a new legislative regime). It will endeavour to eliminate any tax treatment unfavourable to cross-border activities.
- The Commission will strengthen cross-border matching of innovative firms with suitable investors. It will appoint a leading figure to lead the process. In addition, in the context of the SME Finance Forum, the Commission will focus inter alia on the particular financing problems faced by small, innovative companies.
- In 2011 the Commission will conduct a mid-term review of the State aid research and development and innovation framework clarifying which forms of innovation can be properly supported, including for key enabling technologies and innovations addressing major societal challenges, and their best use by Member States. The Commission will assess the effectiveness of the temporary State aid measures introduced in 2008, including the increased "safe harbour" for venture capital investments, and on this basis make the necessary proposals.
Creating a single innovation market
- The European Parliament and Council should take the necessary steps to adopt the proposals on the EU patent, its linguistic regime and the unified system of dispute settlement. The objective is that the first EU patents are delivered in 2014.
- There are more details of the EU patent on I3S.
- Starting in 2011: EU and Member States should undertake a screening of the regulatory framework in key areas, starting with those linked to eco-innovation and to the European Innovation Partnerships (see next section). This will identify the rules that need to be improved or updated and/or new rules that need to be implemented in order to provide sufficient and continuous incentives to drive innovation. The Commission will provide guidance on how best to organise this screening exercise.
- In early 2011, as a first step, the Commission will present a Communication accompanied by a legislative proposal on standardisation, which will inter alia cover the ICT sector, in order to speed up and modernise standard-setting to enable interoperability and foster innovation in fast-moving global markets. This will be combined with a multi-annual programme to anticipate new standardisation needs and integration of standards into R&D projects in the research Framework Programme. The Communication will also examine options for ensuring in a longer term perspective that the standardisation system is able to adapt to the quickly evolving environment and to contribute to Europe’s strategic internal and external objectives (relating, among others, to innovation and technological development), including through the launch of an independent review.
- From 2011, Member States and regions should set aside dedicated budgets for pre-commercial procurements and public procurements of innovative products and services (including those defined by the Innovation Partnerships, see Section 5). This should create procurement markets across the EU starting from at least €10 billion a year for innovations that improve the efficiency and quality of public services, while addressing the major societal challenges. The aim should be to achieve innovative procurement markets equivalent to those in the US. The Commission will provide guidance and set up a (financial) support mechanism to help contracting authorities to implement these procurements in a non-discriminatory and open manner, to pool demand, to draw up common specifications, and to promote SME access.
In addition, the Commission will offer guidance on implementing joint procurements between contracting entities under the current public procurement directives and use the ongoing general evaluation of the current directives to examine the opportunity to introduce additional rules to make cross border joint procurements easier.
- By early 2011 the Commission will present an eco-innovation action plan building on the Innovation Union and focusing on the specific bottlenecks, challenges and opportunities for achieving environmental objectives through innovation.
Promoting openness and capitalising on Europe's creative potential
- In 2011, the Commission will set up a European Design Leadership Board which will be invited to make proposals within a year to enhance the role of design in innovation policy, for example through EU and/or national programmes, and a "European Design Excellence" label. As part of the follow up to the Green Paper on cultural and creative industries, the Commission will establish a European Creative Industries Alliance to develop new forms of support for these industries and promote the wider use of creativity by other sectors.
- The Commission will promote open access to the results of publicly funded research. It will aim to make open access to publications the general principle for projects funded by the EU research Framework Programmes.The Commission will also support the development of smart research information services that are fully searchable and allow results from research projects to be easily accessed.
- The Commission will facilitate effective collaborative research and knowledge transfer within the research Framework Programmes and beyond. It will work with stakeholders to develop a set of model consortium agreements with options ranging from traditional approaches to protect IP through to more open ones. Mechanisms are also needed to further strengthen knowledge transfer offices in public research organisations, in particular through trans-national collaboration.
- By the end of 2011, working closely with Member States and stakeholders, the Commission will make proposals to develop a European knowledge market for patents and licensing. This should build on Member State experience in trading platforms that match supply and demand, market places to enable financial investments in intangible assets, and other ideas for breathing new life into neglected intellectual property, such as patent pools and innovation brokering.
- The Commission will examine the role of Competition Policy in safeguarding against the use of intellectual property rights for anti-competitive purposes. It will analyse the implications of collaborative IPR agreements as part of its review of the application of its anti-trust rules to horizontal agreements between competing companies.
Spreading the benefits of innovation across the Union
- Starting in 2010: Member States should considerably improve their use of existing Structural Funds for research & innovation projects, helping people to acquire the necessary skills, improving the performance of national systems and implementing smart specialisation strategies and trans-national projects. This should also apply to the pre-accession funding for EU candidate countries. The Commission stands ready to assist and will use its regional research and cluster initiatives to support this change and establish a "smart specialisation platform" by 2012, including further support for the emergence of world class clusters. Further details are in an accompanying Communication.
- Member States should initiate the preparation of post 2013 Structural Fund programmes with an increased focus on innovation and smart specialisation. Future regulations governing the operation of the European Regional Development Fund should further commit substantial financial resources to support innovation initiatives within the regions of the European Union.
Increasing social benefits
- The Commission will launch a European Social Innovation pilot which will provide expertise and a networked 'virtual hub' for social entrepreneurs and the public and third sectors.
- It will promote social innovation through the European Social Fund (ESF) building on the significant investments in social innovation which the ESF has made over the last ten years, all along the innovation cycle. This will be complemented by support to innovative social experiments to be developed in the framework of the European Platform against Poverty.
- Social innovation should become a mainstream focus in the next generation of European Social Fund programmes. Member States are encouraged to already step up efforts to promote social innovation through the ESF
- Starting in 2011, the Commission will support a substantial research programme on public sector and social innovation, looking at issues such as measurement and evaluation, financing and other barriers to scaling up and development. As an immediate step, it will pilot a European Public Sector Innovation Scoreboard as a basis for further work to benchmark public sector innovation. It will explore with Member States whether it is appropriate to bring together new learning experiences and networks for public sector leaders at European level.
- The Commission will consult the social partners to examine how the knowledge economy can be spread to all occupational levels and all sectors. It will ask the social partners for proposals on how to develop a sectoral labour market strategy for the caring sector.
Pooling forces to achieve breakthroughs: European Innovation Partnerships
- The Council, Parliament, Member States, industry and other stakeholders are invited to support the innovation partnership concept and to indicate the specific commitments they will undertake to make the concept work. The Commission invites all key stakeholders to commit themselves to pooling efforts and resources to achieve the partnership's intended objectives.
The Commission would welcome views and ideas on the areas being considered for future partnerships and other possible candidates that meet the success criteria.
As a first concrete step, the Commission will start preparations to launch a pilot partnership on active and healthy ageing by the beginning of 2011. Taking into account the views of Parliament and Council and input from other stakeholders, it will present proposals for further partnerships during 2011.
Leveraging our policies externally
- By 2012, the European Union and its Member States should put into place integrated policies to ensure that leading academics, researchers and innovators reside and work in Europe and to attract a sufficient number of highly skilled third country nationals to stay in Europe.
- The European Union and its Member States should treat scientific cooperation with third countries as an issue of common concern and develop common approaches. This should contribute to global approaches and solutions to societal challenges and to the establishment of a level-playing field (removing barriers to market access, facilitating standardisation, IPR protection, access to procurement etc.). In 2012 together with the ERA Framework, the Commission will propose common EU / Member States priorities in S&T as a basis for coordinated positions or joint initiatives vis-à-vis third countries, building on the work of the Strategic Forum for International Cooperation. In the meantime, the EU and Member States should act in a concerted manner when engaging in S&T agreements and activities with third countries. The potential scope for "umbrella" agreements between the EU and Member States with third countries will be explored.
- The European Union should step up its cooperation on the roll-out of the global research infrastructures. By 2012, agreement should be reached with international partners on the development of research infrastructures, including ICT infrastructures, which owing to cost, complexity and/or interoperability requirements can only be developed on a global scale.
Reforming research and innovation systems
- Member States are invited to carry out self assessments and identify key challenges and critical reforms as part of their National Reform Programmes. The Commission will support this process through exchanges of best practice, peer reviews and developing the evidence base. It will also apply them to its own research and innovation initiatives. Progress will be monitored in the framework of the integrated economic coordination ('European semester').
- The Commission proposes to launch the necessary work for the development of a new indicator measuring the share of fast-growing innovative companies in the economy. This will require the full cooperation of Member States and international partners. Subject to these commitments, the Commission will submit the necessary proposals and take urgent action to develop this indicator within the next two years, working with the OECD, as appropriate, so that it can become, over time, a new headline indicator allowing as part of the EU 2020 strategy to benchmark the EU's performance against its main trading partners.
Starting immediately, the Commission will monitor overall progress on innovation performance using the Research and Innovation Union scoreboard.