Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Wake Up Europe!

On 26 March, key MEPs and Innovations leaders discussed the future of Europe at a special event organised by Knowledge4Innovation (K4I) at the European Parliament. “Wake up Europe: A Call for Action” aimed to deliver a 'Wake-up Call' to European policy-makers, highlighting the main problems for the future of innovation in Europe and drawing up proposals for immediate actions. Of course, SusChem was there!

The event coincided with the publication of several European Commission reports on aspects of innovation that confirm many issues that Europe is struggling with in this vital policy area. The reports show sharp drops in living standards in some Member States, high unemployment rates especially among the younger generations, large disparities in innovation performance among the Member States and declining investment.

K4I President Friedhelm Schmider, Director General of ECPA acknowledged that Europe used to be at the forefront of science, technology and innovation, but is now lagging behind with serious consequences. Europe should therefore create a business climate that boosts innovation, productivity and sustainability, and reverses the anti-technology and risk-averse sentiment of European society and politics. “We need to build trust in society about science and technology and finally shape EU policies and supportive tools to strengthen entrepreneurship, scientific research, development and innovation across Europe,” explained Mr Schmider.

Innovation ecosystem
SusChem board member Dr. Gernot Klotz, representing the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) - a K4I Founding Member, stressed that the European Union needs to have an innovation model, based on its strengths - value chains, “ecosystems” of big and small companies and experience to deal with complex solutions. He pointed out that the EU needs instruments in order to set innovation priorities according to the capacities and interests in the different Member States.

Responding to the proposals put forward, Mr Jerzy Buzek, MEP and former President of the European Parliament said that after the Lisbon and the Europe 2020 Strategies, this is the third Wake up call. Mr Buzek also stated: “The Europe 2020 Strategy is not working because of the crisis, but during the fifth European Innovation Summit, we will send a strong signal that it is still alive”. He emphasized that building an Innovation spirit in Europe requires crucial changes in the education system.

K4I Forum President Mr Lambert van Nistelrooij, MEP pointed out that this Wakeup call is meant to show that there are a lot of possibilities coming with the new funding programmes such as Horizon 2020 and the Structural funds. “The [national] governments however do not present these opportunities enough and much better communication is needed from their side” stated Mr van Nistelrooij. Fortunately organisations such as K4I and SusChem succeed in stimulating communication on these issues in Europe.

The Wake-up Call event is the starting point of series of events, which will culminate at the Fifth European Innovation Summit (EIS), which will take place at the European Parliament in Brussels on 30 September to 2 October. The Summit will bring together MEPs, high level EC officials and Innovation stakeholders. The 5th EIS will address new perspectives for innovation for the period 2014-2020. For more information contact the K4I secretariat.

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