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European Innovation Policy

State of Play

Juncker Commission Approach to Innovation

Why does policy focus on innovation?

  • Vital to European competitiveness in global economy

  • Spurs productivity growth

  • Will generate new jobs and industries on which Europe's future prosperity depends

  • Key to solving Global Challenges (climate change, security, health...)

  • EU is implementing policies/programmes that:

    • support investment in research and development

    • better convert research into improved goods, services, or processes for the market

The innovation challenge for Europe

"Europe has been good at turning Euros into knowledge, but not that good at turning the new knowledge into Euros and jobs."

Jyrki Katainen,Vice-President European Commission

The EU is making major efforts to boost innovation...

  • Vital to European competitiveness in global economy

  • Leveraging more private investment (Investment Plan, Capital Markets Union, venture capital Fund of Funds.)

  • Improving framework conditions (Better Regulation, Scientific Advice.)

  • Strengthening markets (Digital Single Market, Single Market.)

  • Funding research and innovation (e.g. Horizon 2020)

  • Building regional capacities (European Investment and Structural Funds)

Strategic priorities for Research & Innovation policy

1.   Open Innovation

2.   Open Science

3.   Openness to the World

What is Open Innovation?

  • Term coined by Henry Chesbrough, (2003)

  • DG Research & Innovation uses definition of Open Innovation as characterised by:

    • the combined power of ideas and knowledge from different actors (whether private, public or third sector) to co-create new products and find solutions to societal needs

    • the creation of shared economic and social value, including a citizen and user-centric approach

    • the implications of mega-trends such as digitisation, mass participation and collaboration, and sustainability

Innovation ecosystem: Action Pillars

Public Sector





Reforming the Regulatory Environment

•  Scientific Advice Mechanism

•  InnovRefit

•  Innovation Deals

•  Policy Support Facility

Boosting Private Investmens in Research & Innovation

•  European Furid of Funds

•  Maximise use of EFSI

Maximising impacts

•   Seal of Excellence

•   European Innovation Council

•   Merge digitai into thematic priorities (health, energy, food, water)

•   Horizon 2020: 2nd wave of simplification Policy Support Facility

Featured insight

Climate change is frequently referred to as one of the defining challenges of the twenty-first century. We concur. In broad terms, the climate challenge is relatively straightforward. However,  clean energy transition is not easy. The political economy of energy transitions is of interest across both the developed and developing worlds. As emphasized, the mitigation challenge cannot be addressed by developed countries alone.

Innovation in Europe: Some good news...

  • Europe has some major strengths: Diversity, Creativity, Research

  • Home to several global hotspots e.g. London, Berlin, Stockholm, Barcelona

  • Big domestic market, attractive location for inward investment

  • Political consensus on innovation's link to productivity and growth

...and some bad news

Europe is losing the race on scaling up market-creating innovation:

  • US: 101 Unicorns

  • China: 36 Unicorns

  • EU: 19 Unicorns

'Unicorns' are start-ups with market value > $1 billion

Source: Fortune, 'The Unicorn list 2016'

"Europe does not yet have a world class scheme to support the very best innovations in the way the European Research Council is the global reference for supporting excellent science. So I would like us to take stock of the various schemes to support innovation and SMEs under Horizon 2020, to look at best practice internationally, and to design a new European Innovation Council. This is not for tomorrow, but I believe we should discuss it as a major element under the mid-term review of Horizon 2020."

"Europe has excellent science, but we lack disruptive market-creating innovation. This is what is needed to turn our best ideas into new jobs, businesses and opportunities."

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, 22 June 2015

Policy response

Guiding principles for possible EU action

EU added value

  • Critical mass for scaling up

  • Competition for ideas

  • Increasing impact from existing initiatives

Top quality & high visibility

  • Learning from success of the European Research Council

  • Impact on jobs, growth and investment


  • Responsive to needs of innovators

  • Easy to access

What could a European Innovation Council do?

  • Bring together and simplify access to current EU innovation support

  • Fill gaps in current EU support for innovation

    • e.g. more support for 'scale-upsmentoring, bridging the 'valley of death'

  • Provide strategic advice to improve innovation environments

    • e.g. on regulation, policies, practices

  • ...?

Closing notes on European innovation

  • Strong interest in doing more at EU level for innovation

  • EU innovation support schemes considered to lack coherence and hard to navigate

  • Gaps in current support for disruptive innovation and scaling up

  • Support for a strategic champion for innovation at EU level

  • H2020 mid-term review an opportunity to review innovation support

  • A range of possible options

  • Commission open to new ideas

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