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Research and Innovation: What´s next in Brussels?

2009-11-06

Key Speech of Maria da Graça Carvalho for the high-level policy debate"Research and Innovation: What´s next in Brussels?", held in the Scotland House, Brussels:

Good morning, ladies and gentleman. Today, I should like to tell you a little about myself and then go on to speak about one of my "crusades": the importance of INNOVATION in Europe. I am a full professor at the Technical University of Lisbon and I have 30 years of research experience in the areas of energy, environment and climate change. In the past, I was also the Minister of Science and Higher Education and the Minister of Science, Innovation and Higher Education in Portugal. (Until taking up my appointment in the European Parliament), I was the Principal Adviser to President Barroso in the areas of Science, Higher Education, Innovation, Research Policy, Energy, Environment and Climate Change from 2005 to 2009. I am now a full member of ITRE- the Industry, Research and Energy Committee. One of my main campaigns is to further innovation as a solution to the challenges that we are all confronted with.

Today, Europe faces three major challenges. These are, firstly, the financial crisis; secondly the problem of Climate Change/Energy security; and, finally, what might be termed the "Demographic challenge". All these challenges require coherent policy and concerted international action undertaken by a whole range of sectors ... across the generations. Innovation based policies are absolutely central to meeting these challenges. There are two key areas that I should like to stress.  These are: first the minimum, necessary requirements for successful innovation and secondly, the importance of a radical new and non-bureaucratic approach to innovation. 

I should like to stress this need for a "paradigm shift" towards a decentralised and flexible system. So, first the minimum requirements for successful innovation and secondly the need for a paradigm shift. So what are the requirements for successful innovation? I would say there are three. These are proper funding for both higher education and research, secondly, a fully developed R&D infrastructure and finally , and this is particularly important, a clear path from the world of research to a dynamic entrepreneurial market.

As for, the importance of a radical new approach - a paradigm shift -  on the one hand, we have to get away from a command and control paradigm. On the other hand, we have to build up a culture of delivering public value through collaboration, exchange of information and participation. If we are to achieve this, building up a culture of innovation and participation necessarily entails: 

  • a decentralised flexible society
  • not just hard science and R&D but also more social questions. Microcredit and low carbon living spring to mind.

It also means experimenting and testing at a small scale level, one that incorporates civil society and social entrepreneurs. Two examples, might be, web-based social networks and new models of child care. So to sum up, the necessary requirements are proper funding and a fully developed R&D infrastructure. We also need a clearly defined path from research to a dynamic entrepreneurial market. As for, the sufficient conditions, we need to

  • encourage participation and collaboration
  • and get away from a centralised bureaucratic structure.

This entails a decentralised flexible society, one that encompasses social questions and undertakes testing and experimenting at a small scale level.

To conclude then, I strongly believe, innovation is a necessary cornerstone to all EU policy.