Pushing Innovation in Europe
By Ingemar Pongratz
The process to finalize the future European Research and Innovation Scheme is currently ongoing. The European Commission both asks and receives new input everyday and there are many stakeholders involved. The process of shaping Horizon Europe, the successor of Horizon 2020 in running ahead.
There are several areas under discussion. One of these areas is how to secure innovation from the research investment and thus to improve economic development in Europe. Pushing Innovation in Europe is thus an important priority
The problem is not new. European researchers produce massive amounts of new knowledge. This new knowledge is published in scientific journals. After that the published results become just another research article. The results are very seldom translated into new products or services that benefit European economy.
The European Commission (EC) has identified this structural problem and has introduced a number of activities to solve the problem. In fact, the problem has its own name, The European Paradox. The EC has for example promoted the participation of European SME in EU funded projects. In addition, the EC has developed funding instruments aimed to support European SME and even established the European Innovation Council to support SME.
Unfortunately, Europe innovation still lags behind.
Recently, The Horizon Magazine presented the researcher view behind the problem. Here one area mentioned is the lack of investor capital to support the development of research based products and services. This is indeed an area that needs to be addressed.
The article also addresses differences in culture, meaning that EU researchers are less inclined to enter into a commercialization process.
However, the article itself also highlights an additional problem. The connection between research and commercial exploitation is taken for granted. But is this correct? Is innovation always dependent on new research? Or can innovation take advantage on previous well known and validated research findings?
The answer is in fact available in a different article in Horizon Magazine. Here, the Commission highlights that the process of bringing new innovation can be very long, sometimes even decades.
With these timeframes, it is highly unlikely that private investors are willing to support European researchers to develop new innovative products for example in the life science sector. But what if European researchers would be pushing innovation in Europe from previous findings?
The problem is that there is very little funding to translate previous research funding to new products and / or services. The main problem are funding agencies. In Sweden for example, funding agencies are of the opinion that research and innovation are inseparable. This implies that only researchers can be innovators. In fact, this also implies that researchers can only be innovators in their field. Funding agencies use the term ‘close to university’.
Funding intended for innovation funds research that never enters into commercialization.
One key issue that is not clear is the definition of innovation. Once you define innovation it will be easier to promote innovation in Europe.
Ingemar Pongratz is founder of Fenix Scientific AB / Pongratz Consulting. Through Pongratz consulting we support organization to apply for public funding from European and Nordic sources. If you need our services, please contact us either through the online contact form or by email: Ingemar.Pongratz () pongratzconsulting.com