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European Commission

Janez Potočnik

European Commissioner for Environment

Developing innovative solutions to our water challenges

3rd meeting of the Steering Group of the European Innovation Partnership on Water

Brussels, 24 May 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for joining me again today at the third meeting of the Steering Group of the European Innovation Partnership on Water.

It's just one year since we formally launched the EIP. Now, we can already show the first results of our efforts:

We developed and adopted our Strategic Implementation Plan last December, providing us with a joint agenda on priority areas for work.

40 million Euros have been allocated to these priorities in a call under the 7th Framework Programme for Research to fund innovation and demonstration projects.

Discussions to align the priorities of the EIP on Water with existing European financing mechanisms, such as Horizon 2020, LIFE and the Structural and Cohesion Funds are at an advanced stage.

But other funding mechanisms are also being linked to the EIP on Water, such as the work plan of the European Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation, and the EUREKA cluster ACQUEAU.

We will discuss the issue of financing for innovation in more detail later in our meeting, when we will have a presentation by Jonathan Taylor, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank.

More specifically on the international dimensions, the EIP on Water aims to create opportunities, and to make use of existing initiatives. This is why we have linked a European Trade Mission for Growth to China to the EIP on Water. I will join Commission Vice President Tajani on this mission at the end of July and we have invited all the actors involved in the EIP to register and explore opportunities in this enormous market.

Our Task Force has started developing a diagnostic report on barriers to innovation, which will be finalized after the summer. Prof. Meyer-Krahmer will present progress on this today.

The online Market Place to bring together demand and supply of innovation and create opportunities for show-casing the activities of the EIP on Water will soon become operational. The organization of a first annual EIP on Water conference on 21 November has also started.

However, perhaps the most significant deliverable so far has been the response to our call for expressions of commitment to form Action Groups.

These Action Groups should correspond to one or more of the priority areas of the Strategic Implementation Plan and work towards the development of innovative solutions in the water sector. Partners in an Action Group should cover as much as possible the entire innovation value chain.

We received 64 proposals involving more than 700 individual organizations. This has by far exceeded our expectations, and is very encouraging.

In relation to the Action Groups, colleagues from 10 different Directorates General in the Commission have participated in their evaluation, each bringing their own perspective. To remove barriers to innovation, we need to remove the silo approach that we often face. This cooperation is a good example of our willingness to form a coherent view and to take action.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have been able to create momentum and we must be careful not to lose it. There are still significant challenges to be faced. We need to find better ways to include the private sector and industry in this initiative by finding the right incentives. We need to make sure that we do not stop at identifying barriers to innovation but also take that crucial next step to remove them.

So the outlook is bright as we have been able to achieve our first tangible deliverables. I think we can afford a little moment of self-congratulation. And I would like to personally thank you all, and thank Frieder and the colleagues in the Environment DG and Research DG for their excellent work in guiding the process smoothly and in record time.

But of course we have challenges ahead. Having seen the spirit of cooperation so far, I am confident that we will be able to make significant steps forward in facilitating the development of innovative solutions to our many water challenges while taking advantage of the market opportunities that come with them.

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