Moedas advances plans for new European Innovation Council

EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas (Source: Science Business)
08/01/2016
As 2016 gets under way, the EU Research Commissioner will start to lay the foundations for an ambitious new institute. The aim is to create a cohesive pan-European body for innovation that will parallel what the European Research Council has done for science

EU Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas is now moving ahead with his plan to create a European Innovation Council (EIC), to act as a one stop shop for innovation and bring order to the widely dispersed innovation competitions running under the Horizon 2020 R&D programme.

European Commission officials have been working on the initiative behind the scenes for a few months and are now beginning to tap ideas from universities and industry on what exactly the new council should do.

As yet, there is no firm timetable, however, a spokeswoman for the Commissioner told Science|Business, “We are currently analysing the ideas and contributions received [from] a number of stakeholders and foresee a number of events over the coming months to deepen the debate on the EIC's future set-up.”

A wide range of ideas are up for discussion, including a suggestion that the new council should command similar resources to the ERC and hand out individual grants, or that its role should be a narrower advisory function, as played by institutes such as India’s National Innovation Council or the American Energy Innovation Council.

Others want to see the new EIC zoom in on the broad set of problems that are seen as hampering technology commercialisation in Europe, including clogged finance pipes and fragmented markets.

Aside from any practical support it can give, Moedas thinks the very presence of the new council will help put a brighter spotlight on Europe’s innovators. An EIC innovation prize is one idea being discussed. Another possibility that has been floated is an annual competition with a prize for the best failed business idea.

Moedas first mooted the idea of an EIC last July, saying, “We are rarely succeeding in getting research results to market. Technologies developed in Europe are most of the time commercialised elsewhere.”

However, Moedas is not the originator of the concept of the EIC, which has appeared in various guises over the years.

In 2002, the director of the Centre for Medical Innovations at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, Hans Wigzell, called for the creation of such an innovation body, saying it could, “professionally support the development of results of science and innovations into applications and products.”

In 2010, the EIC appears in a European Association of Research and Technology Organisation (EARTO) policy document as a body with, “the task of providing strategic, independent advice and guidance” to the Research Commissioner. More recently, EARTO published an expanded vision for the EIC in December.

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Source: Science Business