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5th European Innovation Summit: Europe needs to wake up: 5 calls for action


03 Oct 2013


EU Priorities 2020
Innovation & Enterprise

(Brussels, 3 October 2013) Knowledge4Innovation (K4I) held the 5th European Innovation Summit, which took place in the European Parliament from 30 September until 2 October 2013. The summit was organised in cooperation with most prominent innovation stakeholder platforms in the EU.

The 5th European Innovation Summit focussed on the implementation of the new instruments, seeking to identify the remaining barriers to innovation and how they can be overcome in order to make Europe a leading innovation economy. The outcome of the summit – a declaration, addressing EU-policy makers and member states governments – outlines “5 Calls for Action to wake up Europe”, which were presented during the closing event on Wednesday (2 October):

I) Deliver on the widely accepted and appreciated new instruments and policies (2014-2020) in support of innovation.
II) Build a culture of ‘fail fast’, ‘risk tolerance’, and ‘fast capital’ to cross the valley of death.
III) Create a predictable policy environment and embed innovation as a principle in all measures and decisions.
IV) Engage in joint thinking and acting across sectors and along the value chain.
V) Change what you do: a deep mindset change is needed at all levels: companies, administrations, and citizens.

Lambert van Nistelrooij, Chair of the K4I Governing Board and European Parliament, co-rapporteur for the European Regional Funds, made clear that “all European Union policy instruments, such as Horizon 2020 or the EU Regional Funds, are currently in the final stage, the principle of Smart Specialisation is already agreed on. The Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 has been decided, the money is available. Now it is up to the member states’ governments and the regions to act, and to make innovation, competitiveness and employment happen."

At the opening ceremony, Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Environment, called for four actions to promote a circular economy focussed on resource efficiency: "We need to build a shared understanding of the eco-innovation challenges. We need to develop shared targets and milestones. We need to measure the progress toward this vision and targets. We need to address the barriers to innovation in a concrete way."

Günther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy, reminded the audience that “it is not just about research funding, it is not just about technology development, but it is about an integrated policy from basic research to market uptake that needs to be developed”.

At the session on “Regional Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies,” Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy opened his speech by quoting Albert Einstein: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” To Commissioner Hahn “innovation is of paramount importance for the economic growth of regions and countries.” However, he stresses that “it is up to the Member States and regions to find what they are good at”.


Jerzy Buzek, Vice Chairman of the K4I Forum Governing Board and former President of the European Parliament, emphasised that "on the global map of innovation the EU is still closer to the Valley of Death than the Silicon Valley. Too often, great ideas of European scientists die, before they are implemented by the industry. We need to revive the EU economy from innovative lethargy. Let us take together four steps: we need to focus on key enabling technologies, strengthen the role of business in defining EU research, create a European Innovation Partnership in Transport, use the potential of our young people.”

Hannes Swoboda, Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the S&D Group of the European Parliament, underlined: "On the one hand, Europe has to develop a new consciousness when collaborating with the United States, on the other hand, Europe needs to build and improve its own innovation eco-system in order to remain globally competitive.”

Dr. Burton Lee, PhD MBA - Lecturer, European Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Stanford School of Engineering, asserted on many occasions that “Europe’s core crisis is a crisis of innovation and not a debt crisis. It is a crisis of chronic poor performance in creating disruptive products, new companies, new university models, and new jobs.” He added that “Europe’s students are largely disengaged from the innovation agenda. There exist excellent role models in Finland and the UK where empowered students have formed their own entrepreneurship clubs that are important players in their national innovation eco-systems.”

Friedhelm Schmider, Director General of the European Crop Protection Association and K4I President, pointed out that “it will be essential for the EU to promote a better integration of science and policy-making, moving away from hazard-based legislation and toward a regulatory policy based on robust science and a risk-based approach. He believes that Europe is capable of unlocking its innovation potential by working together, embracing a ‘can-do’ attitude and by ensuring we focus on maintaining and creating R&D and jobs here in Europe”.

The 5th European Innovation Summit was the largest ever, comprising 25 events, including the closing and opening ceremonies, a series of conference sessions, workshops, breakfast, lunch and dinner debates organised by summit partners, as well as an exhibition and two press breakfasts. The Summit gathered 1000 participants, along with three EU Commissioners, 30 Members of the European Parliament, and 150 speakers.

Knowledge4Innovation thanks the summit partners and participants and invites all stakeholders to join the debate on the future of innovation in Europe.


List of all speakers:

Full speeches of the EU Commissioners can be found on their respective websites and you can download a .pdf version of the press release here.

K4I Secretariat
Tel: +32 2 23 354 51