Eurada News nº397 - February 2020

New EU Actions to Help Innovation Ecosystems during the Period 21-27

Learn more about the plans the European Commission has about the topic of Innovation Ecosystems for the pentannual term 2021-2027 and about the main ideas of the “A Robust Innovation Ecosystem for the Future of Europe” Final Conference.

On February 18th EURADA attended, at the premises of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), the A Robust Innovation Ecosystem for the Future of Europe Conference. This was the culminating event of the consultation process conducted by the Innovation Ecosystems Unit of the European Innovation Council (EIC) Task Force of DG RTD between November 2019 and February 2020. The event gathered first-rate representatives from all concerned sectors (large companies and investors; SMEs and Academia; innovation agencies and ministries; regions and cities) that were consulted in the course of participatory workshops (one of which was co-organised by EURADA) and through an online consultation. This consultation process had the purpose of better knowing the challenges, bottlenecks, and needs of innovation ecosystems in order to help the EU Commission launch future actions[1] to stimulate the interregional cooperation among ecosystems, to enhance  soft skills for innovation and research, and, in short, to boost the effectiveness of the European innovation system. These actions will complement the ERDF support for innovation ecosystems and interregional partnerships around smart specialisation topics.

The Conference was opened by two exceptional speakers: Mariya GABRIEL, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and Apostolos TZITZIKOSTAS, President of the CoR. Mrs. Gabriel recognised the importance of innovation as a driver of competitiveness and economic growth. Europe can do better, she stated: “although we represent a 7% of the world population and produce a 20% of the highest-level scientific publication and one third of total R&D, we lack breakthrough and disruptive innovations that create new markets.” Europe should transform its strengths into leadership and entrepreneurship, as well as turn its potentialities into concrete actions; this is why innovation ecosystems should be supported and connected. Mr. Tzitzikostas, for his part, asserted that “we all share a common goal: to ensure that Europe supports every local community, creates new jobs, drives economic growth and accelerates the energetic transition”.

Then two inspirational pitches followed, one by Kat BORLONGAN, Director of La French Tech, and the other by Juan DE ANTONIO, Founder & CEO of Cabify. Of special interest was the first one, in which Ms. Borlongan showed how her company is developing in France one of the strongest, most diverse start-up compatible talent reservoirs in the world, how they are tackling the challenge of having suboptimal levels of key investment, how they are transforming the French government into a partner for ambitious start-ups to reach the market faster.

After the coffee break, we had the opportunity to witness five roundtables with representatives of different sectors, regions and backgrounds. Nicolas BRIEN, CEO of France Digitale, pointed out that while American IA start-ups receive on average a 10% of funding from Universities, this percentage in Europe is only 1%; he also explained how they work in France to bring start-ups to University campuses. Vassilis TSANIDIS, Innovation Policy Coordinator at the Region of Central Macedonia, stood up for the role of regions as connectors of all the stakeholders of an ecosystem, facilitators of the introduction of SMEs to markets and connoisseurs of the skills and needs of citizens. Eduardo MALDONADO, President of the Portuguese National Innovation Agency, interestingly recommended to build a network of national one-stop-shops that would ease and simplify the provision of knowledge and aid  to young start-ups (the great variety of national, regional and European support programmes can be confusing and requires an explanation), and to create more scalators than accelerators, since what authorities are looking for is multinationals that dominate strategic markets, not only start-ups that grow rapidly but without consolidating a leader position. Karina ANGUELIEVA, Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Education and Science, stressed that critical mass, not only excellence, should be promoted through transnational cooperation and suggested that, and suggested that the European Innovation Council, the Pathfinder and the Accelerator should become role models for national governments.

[1] A specific part of Pillar III of Horizon Europe with a proposed budget of €500 millions.

Written by Alex Arcos, Communication and Project Officer at EURADA.