Saturday, 9 July 2011

Pass Notes: the Innovation Union

Innovation Union’ has become a buzz word in the world of European funding recently, and it’s a key influence on the development of Horizon 2020.

I’d just got used to the European Union. What’s the ‘Innovation Union’ when it’s at home?
Oh do keep up. The Innovation Union was introduced in October 2010, and set out 34 commitments aimed at creating a supportive and stimulating environment for innovation.

And innovation is...?
Where have you been? Innovation is the universal panacea, the cure for all known evils, the magic pill that will save us from the Great Recession, and help us to leapfrog our competitors in a single bound.

No seriously.
It’s the development of ideas to the stage of commercial exploitation. But most funders do see it as the universal panacea, and all are keen to get on the innovation bandwagon.

Okay. Gotcha. So how will the Innovation Union encourage innovation?
It hopes to learn from those countries that have successfully embedded innovation. It was clear that success has been no accident there: they had strong strategies for innovation that were integrated across the board, in education, skills, regional development, standardisation, and tax policies. It was backed, steered and monitored at the highest levels. If Europe is serious about innovation, it’s got to do likewise.

Can’t imagine the UK is keen on being told to prioritise innovation by those pushy Brussels bureaucrats.
Au contraire. The British government sees innovation as the key to recovery, and wants to give it a bigger share of the depleted national budget.

Alright, so Europe has got to learn from its competitors. Then what?
Then, my dear friend, it implements the 34 commitments. For higher education these include:
  • 1: Member states have to have strategies in place ‘to train enough researcher to meet national R&D targets and to promote attractive employment conditions in public research institutions.’
  • 2: Better benchmarking, to produce evidence for business/academic collaborations, and development of new curricula.
  • 4: ERA framework single market, including measures to remove obstacles to mobility and cross border cooperation.
  • 9. The European Institute of Technology (EIT).
  • 29. European Innovation Platforms (EIP), a new funding mechanism (or instrument) for meeting societal challenges, such as climate change and energy security. There’s currently a pilot ‘EIP on healthy ageing’, with a goal of adding an average of two healthy years to older EU citizens. There will be others, including ‘smart cities.
  • 30. Attracting highly skilled third country nationals...

Zzzz...
Wake up!

Sorry, you lost me amidst all those acronyms and aspirations.
Well let me make it simple for you. Innovation is going to be a key to research at a European level, so if you want to get some European funding, you’d better start talking to business.

Do say: ‘innovate to accumulate’
Don’t say: ‘Innovate? I’m quite happy in my ivory tower, thank you.’

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