On 10 April 2018, the European Commission launched the Innovation Radar – a data-driven online tool to help match innovators with those who can help get their innovations to market.
Digital technologies have had an increasingly transformative impact on our lives, and the EU invests heavily in digital innovators.
But who is best placed to take their results to the market? Which innovations have the greatest potential to positively impact citizens and society?
Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth & Sport, responsible for the JRC said: "Matching European innovations with entrepreneurs to exploit their full potential is fundamentally a data challenge. The European Commission's Joint Research Centre offered its big data and knowledge management expertise to create the Innovation Radar. This tool will enable us to increase the return on EU investment into research and innovation, and make it more transparent and accountable."
The Innovation Radar provides an intuitive interface to identify high-potential innovations and the innovators behind them in EU-funded R&I projects.
It is a policy tool for innovation management and commercialisation, designed to connect innovators in EU RDI projects and external stakeholders, such as investors, technology scouts or incubators.
With its real-time data collection, it allows for the analysis of EU-funded R&I projects.
Since 2014, the JRC has helped turning the Innovation Radar into a tool for evidence-based policy making by developing and validating the methodology and data collection, providing real-time intelligence on innovations and innovators in EU-funded research and innovation projects and analysing the conditions and design of EU RDI funded projects and their innovative output.
The Innovation Radar tool can be accessed via the web or as a Smartphone app (download from the iOS and Android app stores).
According to the Innovation Radar, EU-funded R&I projects yield on average two innovations.
Exploiting the full potential of those innovations requires further nurturing as projects typically focus more on technology than on commercialisation and deployment.
The main stumbling blocks for innovators exploiting their ideas are financing, IPR and regulation.
At the same time, innovators in EU funded projects need support in partnering with other companies, expansion to new markets and business plan development.
To capture the different maturity levels of innovations on their way to commercialisation, the JRC scientists established four categories based on the Innovation Management and Innovation Readiness Indicators.
The four categories are: exploration (getting things started), creation (technology preparation), commitment (market preparation) and optimisation (ready for the market).
Universities and research centres represent the largest group of innovators in EU-funded R&I projects. Universities are also co-innovators in over 70% of all the innovations with high potential.
New products are frequently co-developed in collaboration between firms and universities. Collaboration between universities and SMEs seems to be particularly fruitful.
This may suggest that universities are a source of new products and services that are then channelled through private organisations to the market.
Diversity of participants and innovation potential
Analyses based on the Innovation Radar data look at the relationship between the diversity of EU RDI funded projects and their innovative output.
Although innovations developed by research networks with a higher organisational diversity have more commercial potential, close collaboration between key innovators of the same type, e.g. between two SMEs or two large companies, increases the potential of their innovations.
Research networks with a wider range of internationally dispersed research partners are likely to have less innovation potential.
This may suggest that there are bigger coordination and communication issues in cases where geographic diversity is greater.
De Prato, G., Nepelski, D., & Piroli, G. (2015). Innovation Radar: Identifying Innovations and Innovators with High Potential in ICT FP7, CIP & H2020 Projects. Seville: JRC.
Pesole, A., & Nepelski, D. (2016). Universities and collaborative innovation in EC-funded research projects: An analysis based on Innovation Radar data: EC-JRC.
Nepelski, D., & Piroli, G. (2017). Organizational diversity and innovation potential of EU-funded research projects. The Journal of Technology Transfer.
Van Roy, V., & Nepelski, D. (2018). Validation of the Innovation Radar assessment framework: EC-JRC.
Nepelski, D., Van Roy, V. and O’Neill, E. (2018). Innovation Radar: Identifying the maturity of innovations in EU-funded research and innovation projects. EC-JRC and CNECT.