Cnr position on the European Innovation Council
On april 2016 the European Commission launched a public consultation to gather ideas for a European Innovation Council (Eic) to create a cohesive pan-European body for innovation and support Europe's most promising innovators.
As proposed by the EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas during the Conference ‘Shape the future of Europe's research and innovation policy’ held on June 2015, the EIC would represent an opportunity to boost the research and innovation system at a European level, by
- attracting investments, entrepreneurs and regions towards a knowledge-based economy,
- promoting occupation and economical growth
- fostering innovation through a more favourable legislation
On these premises, the Italian national research council released the following position statement, so giving its contribution to the ongoing debate.
Cnr position on the European Innovation Council
Cnr is convinced that future economies should be 'knowledge based' and 'Research & Innovation' have to respond to societal needs.
Excellent Research and innovation have been widely addressed as a renewed source of jobs and growth, towards a brain intensive economy able to overcome the societal and financial challenges.
While recognising that excellence and creativity can also emerge from individuals (as ERC has widely and successfully demonstrated), cooperation has to be considered one of the basic pillars for the Union’s growth as a whole, as it is stated in the relevant Articles of the Treaty which constitute the legal basis of the Framework Programs.
In this context, streamlining the current EU instruments and initiatives in support of the “innovation” is strongly envisaged, in order to defragment the landscape and facilitate the stakeholders to efficiently identify and use the most appropriate opportunity.
Cnr is therefore willing to consider the idea of an EIC, if inspired by the following considerations.
Bridging innovative ideas towards their deployment, obtaining at the same time a relevant impact on the civil society, is an extremely complex process which involves many different and inter-connected actors during the different phases.
Despite complexity requires an adequate approach, Cnr welcomes a rationalization of the current initiatives, also through different instruments/incentives, which can guide and facilitate the evolution of the system into more efficient and effective paths.
In Europe, as well as globally, innovation and its impact on territories do not show a homogeneous geographical distribution, mainly due to different framework conditions which often involve aspects far beyond research or industrial competences.
In this regard, each option described by the Commission for the future EIC, shows pros and cons. Tackling the complex challenge to support innovation requires, indeed, multiple and multifaceted interventions.
If interventions should not start from scratch, Cnr has identified some aspects which should be considered as relevant for the design and implementation of EIC, as follows.
Taking into account what Horizon 2020 has already accomplished to combine research and innovation, Cnr acknowledges that the so called 'innovation instruments' (FETs, Innovation Actions, SMEs Instrument and the Fast Track to Innovation) have worked quite well, and Horizon 2020 should be considered as the stepping stone to any novel initiative (as EIC) to bridge ideas to the market.
The EIC process, in a very simplified view, can be identified in:
- the bottom-up approach, at the beginning of the process, to innovative ideas proposed by 'individuals',
- their impact at European level.
These two aspects address:
- the link between users (of knowledge, services, products etc.) and producers,
- the evaluation process.
In this context, the definition/evaluation of the EU added value and the risk of conflict with the State Aid rules, have to be very carefully addressed and monitored. Any instrument or incentive designed to support innovation during the different phases (from the idea to the impact on the society), should therefore take into account the adaptive responses (at local and global dimensions) of the political, social and economic systems, which typically shows different reaction timescales.
The FET scheme, with its different lines of action, is considered by Cnr a good candidate to structure the future EIC. The scheme could also includes or integrate additional existing funding instruments, such as those conceived to support SMEs, joint procurements and tenders. It should cover innovation in all its aspects, which means not only technology.
A simple, user-friendly, platform for retrieving ideas and/or their possible application (using, as an example, existing tools for “semantic search” or “concept base clustering”) is welcome. This platform should also provide tools for linking innovations selected in the frame of EIC to as many funding opportunities as possible.
The concept and the assignment of a 'EU seal of excellence', now attributed only to SMEs, could be widened to other stakeholders, in order to create trust between innovators and funding opportunities.
Last update: 05/05/2016