On the evening of Wednesday 30 May 2012, Knowledge4Innovation in cooperation with Cefic organized a Dinner debate in the European Parliament to discuss the issue of Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). The event underlined the importance of KETs to European industrial competitiveness and examined the issues that might impede their development and deployment.
The event attracted representatives from the EU institutions and industry stakeholders and was chaired by Ioannas Tsoukalas, MEP. "Europe has a major drawback: we are thinking too much but not reacting and the Key Enabling Technologies are important to change this by being integrated in an effective way into the Horizon 2020 programme,” stated Prof. Tsoukalas, who opened the event.
According to Gernot Klotz, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Cefic (above), we need to focus on new business, but also strengthen the sectors where Europe is still a world leader. “The future is in advanced manufacturing and materials”, he added, “but we need critical mass and a new way of thinking – working together across Europe along value chains and between sectors”.
KETs: the future
"KETs are the technologies of the future," said Michel Catinat from the European Commission DG Enterprise. “In Europe we have excellent research assets, but we need an effective bridge to transform science into technical knowledge. Now is the right time to implement KETs, which will require alignment of priorities across institutions, adaptation and coordination of instruments."
Herbert von Bose of the European Commission’s, DG Research Industrial Technologies unit agreed saying "Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are the key instrument [to implement KETs]." He continued: "Industry must use KETs and - preferably - implement them in Europe."
Dr. Horst Soboll, Former Chair of the European Research Advisory Board, explained that KETs are connected strongly with societal challenges, but the ultimate goal must be that their benefits are understood clearly by society. Risk and innovation is a delicate balance between cost and control, but “the greatest risk for Research and Innovation is to stop taking risks,” he concluded.
What are KETs?
The Key Enabling Technologies (KETs: nanotechnology, micro-nanoelectronics, advanced materials, photonics, industrial biotechnology and advanced manufacturing) are a key source of innovation. They provide the indispensable technology bricks that enable a wide range of product applications as they feed into many different industrial value chains and sectors in heterogeneous ways.
In the KETs domain, the EU is now facing growing global competition from both developed and emerging economies in particular in North America and East Asia. Horizon 2020, EU’s new framework program for research and innovation puts a strong focus on further developing KETs with a proposed budget of €5.9 billion in the period 2014-2020.