Making an idea a reality
14 October 2015, EARTO Innovation Award Ceremony 2015
Carlos Moedas - Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation
Check Against Delivery

President Khorsand, Secretary-General Attané, Dear Finalists, Ladies and gentlemen,

It's a real pleasure to share this evening with you. I'd like to use this opportunity to thank EARTO and its members. I'd like to thank you for your many positive contributions to Europe's innovation ecosystem. Research and Technology Organisations are where discovery and purpose come together − creating compelling bonds between academics and industry! This evening I'd like to talk about how that positive contribution is becoming more and more important.

As you know, in our increasingly interconnected and competitive world, RTOs provide researchers and businesses with the right conditions for innovation and they do so while mitigating the risks of innovation. When people and ideas come together in this way, the circulation of knowledge and the networking effects are big! It is a really powerful thing when different disciplines interact. When different sectors come together. All of sudden, we become faced with questions we might never have asked and that is where great ideas come from! That is how practical solutions are born and developed. The kind of solutions we need, if we want to transform research results into meaningful societal impacts.

So, RTOs already provide great flexibility and opportunities for meaningful cooperation between innovation communities, but science and research are evolving at such a pace that we cannot afford to get too comfortable. We need to keep breathing new life into our discussions and we need to constantly act and adapt.

I know you're more than capable of leadership. Throughout the preparation and negotiation of Horizon 2020, EARTO has been an important partner to the Commission. You've provided both formal and informal advice whenever requested. You've helped us to keep our priorities relevant. Whether helping us to define large research infrastructures, or to develop guidelines on how declare direct costs, your expertise has been greatly appreciated. You make a difference. You enhance what we do and I'm glad to see your recommendations keep coming.

Most EARTO members provide access to their publicly available research and some members allow free access to their own libraries. This is really commendable. You have that noble quality of being able to talk… and do! Something many politicians could learn from! And, as I said earlier, your work is becoming increasingly important.

Reducing barriers to knowledge transfer, and supporting R&I, are a big part of President Juncker's Investment Plan for Europe and they are central to my Open Innovation and Open Science priorities. I want to you to help me make Europe the home of Open Science and the champion of Open Innovation. The pursuit of knowledge is of course valuable in itself, but to improve the world we live in, that knowledge must be made into businesses and public services.

What good is a vaccine that can't be distributed? Or a low-emissions engine that can't be reproduced? Or insights into human behaviour that can't be shared?

I'm counting on you to keep doing what you're doing, but not only that… The world is changing so rapidly, that what works now, might not always work in the future. So, always ask yourselves where you can improve. Always consider who else you can include. Be open and be flexible.

You know, prizes are a wonderful thing. They provide us with a moment to consider human achievement: a moment to appreciate the hard work and dedication of those people, who put all their energy into improving the world around them − one solution at a time. And prizes are equally good at spotting new talent as they are old. Prizes are our way of recognising that fulfilling your potential, is as valuable to society as it is to yourself.

So, I'd like to tell you about a new Horizon 2020 Social Innovation prize, which will be launched next year. By open vote, everyone here can help decide the challenge to be solved. There are five topics to choose from. From childhood obesity, to integrating migrants into the labour market and the vote closes on 21st October, so check it out on the Commission website as soon as you can!

I'd like to conclude by saying a few words to this evening's finalists. Congratulations to all of you! To anyone who says Europe 'lags behind' in innovation, I'd like them spend a few hours watching you do what you do. I would want them to see how you work and how passionate you are about your ideas. It takes vision to have a good idea, but it takes endless energy and conviction to turn an idea into reality. So you have my utmost admiration, and I hope you take this moment as your cue to go much further!

So in short, continue to lead! Continue to question! And continue to evolve!