Consistency and coherence key to successful innovation policy, says Potocnik

By Redazione

‘If there is one thing we need to promote innovation in Europe, it is precisely this: consistency and coherence,’ European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik told delegates at the
International Conference on Innovation Policy Strategy in Helsinki, Finland, on 29 January.

According to the Commissioner, the next European Innovation Scoreboard, which will be published shortly, will show a ‘persistent, though declining, innovation gap with the US and Japan.’

Mr Potocnik emphasised that this innovation gap is due to a large number of factors, and if it is to be narrowed, action will be needed across a wide range of policy areas.

‘There are no quick wins for politicians who work on innovation policy,’ the Commissioner warned, noting that we need to invest more in people and modernise labour markets while also unlocking
the business potential of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and investing in research and education. Issues of flexicurity, child care, life-long learning, cutting red tape, and the
modernisation of public administration all need to be addressed, as do the mobility and career prospects of researchers. Strengthening competition in the services sector and developing a new
generation of research infrastructures are additional important goals.

‘All matter,’ the Commissioner stated. ‘Each element reinforces the others, while lack of progress in one holds back progress in the others.’

At the European level, the Commission is working hard to boost knowledge and innovation through the Lisbon Strategy, the Commissioner explained, pointing out that the strategy is about more
than research and technology.

‘What probably matters most if we want to boost innovation is to create the right framework and market conditions so that incentives are given for people and companies to innovate, in whatever
sector they work,’ said Mr Potocnik.

To address these issues, the Commission is working on a series of initiatives which together are designed to boost innovation in the EU. These include the recently released Lead Markets
Initiative, which aims to apply a range of instruments in a coherent way to create new, European markets for innovative goods or services in key areas such as eHealth, renewable energies and
sustainable construction.

Turning to the issue of the European Research Area (ERA), Commissioner Potocnik underlined the fact that the EU alone cannot create the European Research Area (ERA); the support of the
individual Member States is crucial.

‘It is there that the greatest efforts in public research are made and where the bulk of public resources lie,’ he commented. ‘A lot of work still remains to be done and it will only be done if
the Member States and the European Commission work together in partnership, with each accepting their responsibility for making it happen.’

When it comes to spending money on research and development (R&D), Finland is way ahead of most other countries in Europe; it already spends around 3.5% of GDP per year, and aims to
increase this to 4% by 2011. The European target is to spend 3% of GDP on R&D.

However, while the Commissioner applauded Finland for its efforts, he emphasised that the Commission is also keen to ensure that Member States take full advantage of the ERA. With this in mind,
the Commission plans to assess the Member States’ National Reform Programmes with both measures in mind.

‘In other words, not just the actions that Member States take to boost investment in research and innovation nationally, but also whether they are able to raise their horizons and see the
benefits of increased openness, cooperation and competition with partners in Europe and beyond,’ Mr Potocnik explained.

To boost the Member States’ involvement in the construction of the ERA, Mr Potocnik, together with the Slovenian and French presidencies of the EU, is also looking at ways to improve the
political steering of the ERA by the Competitiveness Council.

The conference in Helsinki was organised by the Finnish government as part of its preparations for a new national innovation strategy. Although the country is already recognised as a world
leader in all things innovative, the government is not resting on its laurels. Its new strategy is designed to address the new challenges of the 21st century, and will be based in large part on
the policies outlined during Finland’s presidency of the EU in 2006.

‘[Innovation policy] requires policy-makers and politicians to innovate in the way they conduct and implement policy,’ commented Mr Potocnik. ‘The new Finnish innovation strategy, from what I
have seen of it, responds to this challenge.’

For more information, please visit:

%d blogger hanno fatto clic su Mi Piace per questo: