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Brussels, 08 January 2009

Boosting Creativity and Innovation in Europe: Official launch of the European Year 2009 in Prague

The Czech Presidency of the EU and European Commission launched the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 on Wednesday, 7 January with the slogan “Imagine. Create. Innovate”. The Year was inaugurated during a ceremony in Prague by the Commission President José Manuel Barroso and the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek. At the accompanying launch conference, the Ambassadors for the Year presented a report on creativity and innovation in the EU, whose message is that investment in education and in the skills and creative capacity of Europe should be the top priority of EU institutions and governments.

The conference to mark the launch of the Year was held in Prague on Wednesday afternoon, and was attended by a host of personalities including high representatives of EU member states, of the European Commission, members of the Czech government and several Ambassadors of the Year. The Conference ran in parallel to the meeting between the Commission and the Czech Government and was followed by the evening inauguration ceremony in the National Theatre in Prague.

The European Year begins against the backdrop of the current economic crisis, and many speakers underlined that boosting creativity and innovation is part of the solution. ”We do not know how long this crisis will last and how deep it will become. But when it is over, those who will have invested in creativity and innovation will find themselves well ahead of the pack," the European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel', said in his address.

The Prague conference was preceded in the morning of 7 January by a round table discussion attended by several Ambassadors of the Year and presided by Esko Aho, Executive Vice President of Nokia and Former Prime Minister of Finland.

These eminent personalities adopted a set of recommendations for EU governments and institutions which were presented by Mr Aho at the afternoon conference. These are available on the dedicated website of the Year,

German inventor Prof. Karlheinz Brandenburg, French researcher Dominique Langevin, Hungarian architect and designer Ernő Rubik and Romanian film director Radu Mihăileanu participated at this event, together with other top businessmen, artists and designers (see annex for more details).

The Ambassadors expressed their commitment to contribute to the success of the Year and to foster long-term debate on creativity and innovation, which are crucial for Europe´s future position in the world. There was unanimous consensus that investment in education and in the skills and creative capacity of Europe should be the top priority of EU institutions and governments. The Ambassadors stressed that it would be a fundamental mistake to cut research & development and education spending in the context of the current crisis. For them, creativity and innovation are vital tools to tackle Europe's challenges, including demographic change, globalisation, climate change, and the transition of the EU to being a knowledge-based society.

The European Year of Innovation and Creativity (EYCI) aims to raise awareness of the importance of creativity and innovation as key competences for personal, social and economic development. By emphasizing these priorities, the EU aims at shaping Europe's future in a global competition by fostering the creative and innovative potential in all of us. The Year is conceived as a horizontal, cross-cutting exercise involving many areas. Apart from education and culture, it involves enterprise, regional and research policies, energy, transport, environment and the information society.

The EU will offer a framework for raising awareness of the issues concerned and promoting a policy debate on how to increase Europe's creative and innovative potential. As was the case in previous European Years, the activities will include promotion campaigns, events and initiatives at European, national, regional and local levels. Already in the first days of 2009 it has attracted a lot of interest from the Member States, regions, companies, artistic circles and civil society.

For more information about the Year, the Ambassadors, and the events:

Press release for the Media Launch:


Ambassadors of the European Year of Creativity and innovation 2009

Round Table, Prague, 7 January 2009

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image] Esko Aho

Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations and Responsibility, Nokia. Statesman, former Prime Minister of Finland (1991-1995). Between 2004 and 2008 he was the president of SITRA, the Finnish Innovation Fund. He holds a Master of Social Sciences degree form the University of Helsinki.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image] Karlheinz Brandenburg

Head of Research Area "Electronic Media Techniques", and Director of Fraunhofer Institut for Digital Media Technology (IDMT). His dissertation at the University of Erlangen served as a basis for the development of modern audio-coding methods, like MP3, MPEG-2 and AAC.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image] Edward de Bono

Professor of psychology, and founder of the World Centre for New Thinking in Malta. He is the originator of lateral thinking which treats creativity as the behaviour of information in a self-organising information system - such as the neural networks in the brain. He graduated in Oxford from psychology and obtained a D. Phil. in medical research.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image] Dominique Langevin

Physical chemist, director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) a specialist in foams and emulsions. Winner for Europe of the highly prestigious L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science (2005). She obtained her degree in physics at the École Normale Supérieure, Sèvres.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image] Áron Losonczi

Architect, inventor of LiTraCon (light-transmitting concrete). He studied at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (Faculty of Architecture) and the Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan at Stockholm. His invention won several design and innovation awards, including Red Dot: best of best (2005); Leaf Awards (2006); IF Material Award (2008

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ] Bengt-Åke Lundvall

Professor at the Department for Business Studies, University of Aalborg and Research Manager for Danish Research Unit for Industrial Dynamics (DRUID).Leading European researcher on innovation. He obtained his scientific degree at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image] Radu Mihăileanu

Film director, screenwriter and producer living in France. He left Romania in 1980 and graduated at the IDHEC cinematographic institute in Paris. He also published poems in a book named "Une vague en mal de mer". Films: Le Concert (2009); Va, vis et deviens (2205); Les Pygmées de Carlo (2002); Train de vie (1998); Bonjour Antoine (1997); Trahir (1993); Les quatre saisons (1980)

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image] Blanka Říhová

Microbiologist, deputy director and head of Division Immunology and Genetic Biology at the Institute of Microbiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. She has obtained her scientific degrees at the Charles University in Prague and at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ] Ernő Rubik

Inventor, sculptor and professor of architecture. He is best known for the invention of mechanical puzzles including Rubik's cube, Toy of the Year in 1980-1982 in several countries. He obtained his degree at the Budapest University of Technology, and the Hungarian University of Applied Arts (today: Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design).

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