Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Convention highlights innovation challenges

The European Commission held its second Innovation Convention on 10 and 11 March in Brussels. The Innovation Convention is an essential (and fun) part of the Innovation Union flagship initiative that aims to create an innovation-friendly environment in Europe. The convention provides a platform for debate, workshops, award ceremonies and a showcase for some of Europe’s most innovative ideas and people.

The convention was organised by Research and Innovation Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (pictured below trying out Google Glass) and opened by Commission President José Manuel Barroso. He praised the Commissioner for her efforts and enthusiasm in driving forward an ambitious European agenda on innovation in the context of the overall Europe 2020 agenda.

President Barroso said: “Innovation has a vital role to play in the [EU’s] recovery and in shaping our societies of tomorrow. Europe has a good story to tell, but we still need to do more to foster innovation and we want to do it with our partners.”

“Innovation and skills go to the very heart of what we, in Europe, should be about in the 21st Century, in our knowledge, in our values and in our way of living,” he continued.

Key messages
SusChem contributed to a session on the ‘Key innovation messages from 2013’ as a follow up to the Vilnius Innovation Forum and the 5th European Innovation Summit. This fringe session was organised by Knowledge4Innovation (K4I) and the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2013 on the afternoon of the first day of the conference.

In 2013 the two major innovation summits were organised in Vilnius and Brussels respectively and both resulted in a series of new messages and actions that were presented and discussed at this meeting. Speakers included Mr Lambert van Nistelrooij, MEP, Chairman of the Knowledge4innovation Forum Governing Board, Dr. Albertas Žalys from the Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Science, and Mr Dimitrijus Kucevicius from the Ministry of Economy.

Dr. Gernot Klotz, Executive Director Research and Innovation, Cefic (above) gave the view from SusChem. He noted that Europe produced around 30% of the world’s patents but only a few percent of the global manufacturing. He emphasised the difference between research and innovation: innovation is about change, doing things differently and at the appropriate speed – it is not only about more money.

The EU needs to build on its innovation strengths. This meant that we needed to not only focus on brand new industries, but also on existing leading innovative industries such as chemicals and the process sectors. He noted the role of SPIRE PPP in connecting innovation across the process sectors under Horizon 2020.

He concluded that Europe needed to decide if it was only interested in knowledge creation or also the benefit, in terms of jobs and growth, which came from serious implementation of knowledge. He believes that Europe needs a strong manufacturing as basis for whole economy and that to succeed at innovation would require clear and strong leadership from all parts of society including both government and business.

Another highlight was an early evening ‘Global Leader’ session, moderated by Clara de la Torre who now heads the Key Enabling Technologies Directorate at the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation, that saw Marijn E. Dekkers, Chairman of the board of Management of Bayer AG in conversation with Professor Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Advisor to President Barroso (pictured below).

Their conversation discussed the role and the perception of science and innovation in society – in particular how to strengthen an evidence-based approach for policy-makers, thus ensuring transparency and an effective involvement of the public.

The SusChem News team also enjoyed a Science Communication workshop organised by the BBC featuring (below from left to right) BBC presenter Vivienne Parry, BBC Science producers Jacqui Smith and Helen Thomas and comedian and BBC Science Club presenter Dara O’ Briain.

Showcase area
The exhibition area of the Innovation Convention provided a space to showcase a range of innovative prducts and enterprises from Google Glass to fuel-cell powered cars and rapid cooling for drinks!

Two of our favourites with a sustainable chemistry elements were the Algae Lamp – pictured above being described by Nicolas Hue (on the right) - and the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) stand (below) which highlighted the winners of its ‘Two Team‘ projects that looked at breakthrough technologies for a low carbon economy including the use of Deep Eutectic Solvents to process biomass – an extremely energy and resource efficient concept.

A huge number of photos from the two days can be found here on the Innovation Convention's flickr web page and video summaries of the two days of the Convention can be viewed below and are also available on the Innovation Convention website along with lots more information on all the events that took place.

Innovation Convention Day One

Innovation Convention Day Two

We are looking forward to the third event already!

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