Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
Made in Europe – how EU research and innovation helps our society
'Made in Europe' event, European Parliament
Brussels, 8 October 2012
Today, amid all the daily news of Europe's many challenges, I'm delighted to tell a positive story.
Today you'll see evidence of what great technology Europe has to offer, and how it can help us face our future. In helping deal with challenges like a population that is getting older, and more in need of care. Of rising energy costs and carbon emissions. And the threat of decreasing social equality and access to services.
For example, e-Government across our single market can boost efficiency for governments, and make life more convenient for citizens. Help for heart attack victims to follow an exercise programme for the fastest recovery. Surgery that doesn’t leave a scar. Robots that help dependent people stay at home and active for longer.
Plus tools to cut rush-hour traffic; for more energy and water efficiency in social housing; or to reduce the electricity used by lighting. Just by using more efficient chips, we could cut European CO2 emissions by 4%.
These projects on display today are immensely valuable to our society. But they are just a fraction of what we are investing in, under current research and innovation programmes.
Here in Europe we have many different advantages. We have talented people, great researchers, and crowds of people looking for better healthcare, better transport, better government services. Plus, we have a track record of invention and innovation.
To start, we must support the technologies that enable and underpin innovation in other areas. Like micro- and nano-electronics: let's cut the fragmented landscape, pool our excellence in R&D, and connect the industry that supplies innovation with those who demand it. Let's become world leaders in that key enabling technology.
And, beyond research and development, let's remember that good ideas often can't prosper, can't spread, can't create jobs, without the right infrastructure: digital infrastructure. That's why we've proposed support for high-speed broadband, and cross-border digital public services, through the Connecting Europe Facility. That investment is essential for an innovative, digital single market.
And most of all, let's provide the support that research and innovation sorely needs. With less red tape for easy access by the most innovative small businesses. Setting aside funds for the most open and disruptive innovation. And targeting innovation to provide real solutions, real products, real jobs. The €80 billion we have proposed for Horizon 2020 can offer all of this.
This is my recipe for success: let's bring all the factors together. Let's target the highest quality research and innovation, focussing on every stage of the chain.
Let's embrace new technology, and apply it to fix our many societal challenges. Not just having the technology: but daring to use it!
Then the outcome will be greater than the sum of its parts, and Europe can become an innovation powerhouse. Attracting the best the world has to offer – and offering our citizens the best solutions to 21st century challenges. That will benefit our economy, our society, and our people.
That's the best way to become a creative and competitive continent. The best way for us to prosper in the short term and in the long. And the best way to build a better society.