Máire GEOGHEGAN-QUINN European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Research and Innovation in Europe – the role of Public-Private Partnerships in Horizon 2020 Horizon 2020 Conference Conference of the Italian Association of Technology Districts (ADITE) Rome, 3 May 2012
European Commission - SPEECH/12/318 03/05/2012
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European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
Research and Innovation in Europe – the role of Public-Private Partnerships in Horizon 2020
Horizon 2020 Conference Conference of the Italian Association of Technology Districts (ADITE)
Rome, 3 May 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Europe is faced with many problems. But I am very optimistic that with research and innovation we can solve a lot of them – and I emphasise "we", because that is the key. Our problems are so complex and daunting that we need all hands on deck. We need the right people and the right institutions cooperating. And we need better, more innovative structures for working together. We need better partnerships.
So I am really delighted to be back in Rome today, and to talk to you about what we are doing at European level to develop more and stronger partnerships in research and innovation.
This issue is important because research and innovation are the best tools at our disposal to renew our economy and tackle a long list of other major challenges that we face. This issue is also important because good partnerships have the potential to bring the best talents together, with different skills and experiences, to help us meet these challenges.
I would like to take a very broad view of research and innovation partnerships in this discussion - from the structures formed at European level to tackle a specific challenge, right down to local level clusters that spur innovation on the ground; and everything in-between.
Partnerships have moved to the top of the European Commission's agenda - as shown by the publication last September of our dedicated Communication on Partnering in Research and Innovation.
In addition, Innovation Union recognised the importance of partnering in research and innovation as a way of "pooling resources to achieve breakthroughs" – and this is being done in a very practical way with the European Innovation Partnerships – a brand new way of bringing actors together to tackle a common goal.
Innovation Union, launched in October 2010, is an integrated innovation strategy built around 34 specific commitments. The strategy aims to improve conditions for research and innovation in Europe and ensure that innovative ideas can be translated into new goods and services that create growth and jobs.
Innovation Union focuses on removing obstacles to innovation and on putting in place the conditions that will smooth the path from lab to market. We need faster standard-setting, more affordable patents, more public procurement of innovative goods and services, better access to venture capital and a functioning knowledge market in Europe.
We are making very good progress on meeting the 34 commitments contained in Innovation Union, including on the new concept of European Innovation Partnerships.
The Innovation Partnerships address a well-defined target within a specific societal challenge. In 2011 we adopted a pilot in the area of Active and Healthy Ageing, which provides a platform mobilising actors across policy areas, sectors and borders to commit and contribute to supply and demand side measures across the research and innovation cycle.
The pilot has delivered a convincing Strategic Implementation Plan with the agreement of all stakeholders. Two more Innovation Partnerships on Raw Materials and Sustainable Agriculture, which are potentially highly relevant for Italy, were officially approved on the 29 February this year.
The European Commission's Communication on partnerships also stated that "We must use existing public and private resources for research and innovation in a smart way to optimise the contribution of public and private players in achieving sustainable growth."
This is also true at the EU level, where there is potentially huge added-value in combining EU funding with other public and private sources of financing to achieve the critical mass needed to tackle our biggest challenges.
This is why Horizon 2020, the proposed new programme to finance research and innovation at EU level, includes options to support both public-public and public-private partnerships, with a clear set of criteria for selecting the initiatives to fund.
Horizon 2020 provides that: "A greater impact should also be achieved by combining Horizon 2020 and private sector funds within public-private partnerships in key areas".
This means that the public-private partnerships in the form of Joint Technology Initiatives – the JTIs - launched under FP7 may be continued using more appropriate or fit-for-purpose structures.
FP7 is contributing 3.1 billion Euro of funding to five JTIs: Clean Sky on Environmentally-friendly aeronautical technologies; the Innovative Medicines Initiative; Fuel Cells and Hydrogen; ENIAC on nanotechnologies; and Artemis on Embedded Computing Systems. In addition, the SESAR Joint Undertaking, also partially financed under FP7, aims to modernise Europe's air traffic management system.
It is possible that further public-private partnerships may be launched under Horizon 2020 where they meet the defined criteria.
I would like to give you some more general information on Horizon 2020, so you have some context for what we will do to support partnerships.
With a total budget of 80 billion Euro, for the first time, Horizon 2020 will bring together all European-level support for research and innovation under one umbrella. The programme's simple architecture is composed of three distinct, yet mutually reinforcing priorities, or pillars.
The first priority is excellent science which provides the bedrock of future growth and wellbeing and for which a budget of nearly 24.6 billion euro is foreseen.
The spectacularly successful European Research Council will see its budget increased to 13.2 billion Euro. The ERC gives world-class scientists of any nationality the chance to conduct excellent research in Europe. The first pillar also includes dedicated support to improve research infrastructures because this goes hand in hand with our drive to attract and support the best researchers.
We also propose to increase to 5.75 billion Euro the funding to the Marie Sklodowska Curie actions on researcher training, mobility and careers.
The Second Pillar of Horizon 2020 aims to boost industrial leadership, with actions to make Europe a more attractive place for businesses to invest in R&D and innovation. We will invest nearly 18 billion Euro under this pillar.
As part of this, we propose 13.7 billion Euro in targeted support for the key enabling and industrial technologies that underpin innovation across different industries and sectors. This includes ICT, nanotechnologies, advanced materials, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing processes and space.
We also propose a major strengthening of our support to venture capital and loans for innovative companies with a budget of 3.5 billion euro. Linked to this, we are introducing new support tailored to the needs of innovative SMEs.
The Third Pillar focuses on Tackling Societal Challenges, which will receive nearly 32 billion Euro of funding. It is proposed to focus on the following six challenges:
Health, demographic change and wellbeing;
Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine research and the bio-economy;
Secure, clean and efficient energy;
Smart, green and integrated transport;
Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials;
Inclusive, innovative and secure societies.
Solutions to these societal challenges will only come from ground breaking research and innovation. At the same time, finding solutions to these challenges will offer massive opportunities for European businesses to create growth and jobs.
That was a very quick overview of the content of our Horizon 2020 proposal. It is currently under discussion with the European Parliament and the Member States in the Council. There are three particular aspects of our plans that I would like to draw your attention to.
First, what role will the European Innovation Partnerships play in Horizon 2020? The Partnerships are not funding instruments of Horizon 2020, nor do they substitute the existing institutional decision mechanisms. However, the objectives developed in the Partnerships' Strategic Implementation Plans will make an important contribution to the definition of priorities in the annual work programmes of Horizon 2020.
In fact, the Horizon 2020 proposal supports many other Innovation Union commitments. Concretely, this means more EU funding for demonstration and pilots; for the inclusion of standardisation from the start of research projects; and to encourage innovation in non-technological areas such as design, services and social innovation, thereby reflecting a broad approach to innovation.
The second aspect to note is Horizon 2020's focus on innovation. You can see this throughout the proposal: from the new forms of funding which will support research and innovation right from the laboratory through to exploitation; from the support for testing, prototyping and demonstration type activities; and from the new measures for risk and equity funding of innovative companies.
The radically revamped approach to SMEs includes a dedicated scheme for supporting those companies showing a strong ambition to develop, grow and internationalise.
Third, and most relevant to our discussions today, is the greater emphasis that will be given to building networks, such as the public-private and public-public partnerships.
Over the course of the current 7th Framework Programme – better know as FP7 - we have already learnt a great deal about how these work and sometimes why there have been difficulties. This experience will help us develop more effective partnerships in Horizon 2020.
I would like to talk for a moment about partnerships at a more local level. Clusters and cluster policies play a vital role in creating a competitive and innovation-based economy. The EU Framework Programmes for Research have recognised this and played their part, including by stimulating clusters and networks in strategically selected fields.
FP7 has already supported transnational co-operation between research-intensive clusters. These clusters are vehicles for knowledge transfer from academia to business – from research to commercialisation - bringing together universities, research centres, enterprises and regional authorities. They also boost innovation and sustainable economic development in their regions.
In the future, we will be looking for even greater synergies with the new round of Structural Funds post-2014, based on regional smart specialisation strategies. Naturally, clusters will play a major role in creating these synergies.
But I really believe that Europe will only fully benefit from our excellent research and capitalise on our innovation potential when it becomes as easy for research institutes, universities and companies to partner and cooperate within the European Union as it is within their own Member States.
We recently held an extensive public consultation on what is needed to complete the European Research Area. The massive response highlighted the need to remove obstacles to the cross-border flow of people, ideas and funding.
With the publication of the ERA Framework this summer, we will be taking concerted action to create a properly-functioning European Research Area.
We want to make it easier for scientists to collaborate, by removing obstacles to the free flow of researchers, data and scientific knowledge in Europe, and by letting researchers take their grants across borders.
We will support networking between knowledge transfer offices and build effective bridges between academia and enterprise, improving the exploitation of research results and their uptake by business.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank ADITE for giving me this opportunity to present some of the policies and actions that we are taking at European level to encourage and support more and better research and innovation partnerships – and I hope that Italian researchers and innovators will play a full part in these initiatives.
But of course what we do at European level is simply a catalyst and complement to many more actions that are done at national and local levels.
Just as Horizon 2020 represents a major breakthrough in how we fund R&D at EU level, so we have to pursue similar innovations and reforms at national level.
According to the recent Innovation Union Scoreboard, released in February this year, almost all Member States have improved their innovation performance. However, progress is patchy and the pace of change is too slow, being deeply affected by short-term, austerity measures.
So, Innovation Union is proceeding well, and Italy must be a key player in this process. I encourage you and other Italian stakeholders to get even more involved in turning the European Union into an Innovation Union.
Italy ranks as a moderate innovator in the Innovation Union Scoreboard. Some progress has been made in recent years on R&D intensity, and I appreciate Italy's recently-set target of 1,53% in the context of Europe 2020. But with such tremendous potential in terms of creativity and cultural richness, I think Italy can be more ambitious – especially because there is a strong correlation between smart investment and economic recovery.
Those countries that invested more in R&D and education are weathering the economic crisis better. But spending money makes no sense if it is not well spent. At any time, but especially in times of austerity, we must get results, a return on our investment. This means launching key structural reforms, at EU and national level, to increase both the efficiency and the economic impact of money invested in research and innovation.
It is important, and not just in Italy, to build better links between the science base and the business sector. So I fully support Italy's efforts to make structural changes towards faster-growing and more innovative sectors, which would stimulate private investment in R&D.
There are three messages that I hope you will take away…
I hope that the European Commission can count on Italy's support and active participation, because there is no need for me to remind you that we will get the best results if we work together, in partnership.