--- Posted by Gérald Santucci, DG CONNECT, Knowledge Sharing
"The essence of competitiveness", said Jack Welch - former CEO of General Electric - once, "is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important - and then get out of their way while they do it." This is essentially the intention of the European Commission Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology - DG CONNECT - as we are approaching the ICT Competitiveness Week - a series of workshops and consequential conversations among more than 300 invited experts who have been purposely invited in Brussels over the period from 17th to 20th of September.
Competitiveness is currently ranking high on the agenda of policy makers. In particular, ICT has put policy makers in a fast-changing environment, where new technologies and new businesses practices call for a continuous rethinking of their policies. Over the last two years, the EU-funded International Research Network on the Economic Impact of ICTs - ICTNET - has contributed to enhance the coordination of the research in the economics of ICT in Europe, bringing together leading researchers in order to discuss recent scientific contributions and outstanding policy challenges, such as ICT, productivity and growth, ICT R&D and intangibles, ICT-enabled innovation, and ICT diffusion to the economy.
The recent World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 has reviewed the competitiveness landscape of 144 economies, showing a vast difference between the best- and worst-performing nations in the 17-nation euro zone, with Finland taking third place and Greece lagging far behind in the 96th spot. The report highlights the role of the lack of competitiveness among the root causes of the current difficulties in the euro zone. The Bruegel report "Triggering competitiveness: The EFIGE cross-country report" has stressed that enhanced competitiveness at the EU level is required to allow the EU to capture growth currently taking place mainly in emerging markets.
Against this background, DG CONNECT decided in April 2012 to enrich the policy-mix (tools and priorities) in order to maximise the potential of ICT to deliver European growth and job creation, in particular towards promoting a more agile and responsive space for creativity and a genuinely SME-friendly approach. Complementing more traditional incentives (such as grants), instruments such as prizes and public procurement of innovation will be used as new tools for fostering innovation. DG CONNECT also plans to innovate on how research priorities are set and how they can combine with the use of the wider range of policy tools beyond those covered in H2020 (e.g. regulations, internal market, IPR regimes, tax incentives etc.).
The ICT Competitiveness Week covers cross-cutting issues (Day 1) and specific strategies by ICT sector (Days 2, 3 and 4). The objective of the 4 cross-cutting theme sessions is to identify the main impediments (and ways to redress them) to the realisation of the full potential of ICT for boosting competitiveness, growth and job creation. The sessions will include 'Framework conditions for ICT competitiveness', with focus on IPR, taxation, and state aid, 'Innovative companies', including access to finance (entrepreneurship, new emerging sectors and business models, new value creation models), 'Smart specialisation (local/regional dimension) and the role of innovation ecosystems and clusters', and 'Digital skills (business skills and digital skills gap'. The objective of the 13 sectoral sessions is to receive insights allowing to refine and validate the DG CONNECT strategies, including specific SWOT analyses, which have been developed during the first half of this year by the Sectoral Strategy Needs Task Force led by Augusto de Albuquerque. The ICT sectors covered include: Electronic components and systems; Future and emerging technologies; Net futures; Security; Embedded systems and advanced computing; Creativity; ICT for manufacturing & engineering; Full Electric Vehicle; HPC and large data; Active and healthy ageing; Robotics, Photonics; and Smart cities.
As the ICT Competitiveness Week is a working event, external participation is by invitation only. More than 300 participants are expected over the four days, including some 260 external independent experts and 40 European Commission officials (from DG COMP, DG CONNECT, DG EAC, DG EMPL, DG ENER, DG ENTR, DG HR, JRC, DG MARKT, DG REGIO, and DG RTD).
The ICT Competitiveness Week is a defining milestone among many planned in the journey towards the final adoption of Horizon 2020, and more specifically its ICT part.
The Twitter hashtag is: #ICTcw2012