Europe’s rush to innovate | World Economic Forum 2024

Prominent voices such as Dimitri de Vreeze, Luciana Lixandru, Iliana Ivanova, Maria Leptin, Nikolai Denkov, and José Luis Escrivá examine the challenges and opportunities confronting Europe in research and innovation as it reaches a critical point in its historical identity.

 Road, Freeway, Intersection, City, Light, Traffic Light, Urban, Advertisement, Lighting, Car, Transportation, Vehicle, Person, Electronics, Screen, Computer Hardware, Hardware, Monitor, Metropolis, Road Sign, Sign, Symbol

In a session titled ‘Europe’s Pursuit of Innovation,’ a diverse panel of speakers from around the world convened to illuminate the challenges and opportunities facing Europe. Positioned at the crossroads of its historical identity as a global hub, Europe grapples with crucial issues in research and innovation.

The session featured distinguished experts such as Dimitri de Vreeze, Luciana Lixandru, Iliana Ivanova, Maria Leptin, Nikolai Denkov, and José Luis Escrivá, each contributing unique insights to the dynamic discourse. The resulting discussion offered a nuanced exploration of pivotal themes, providing a comprehensive overview of the current landscape.

Leveraging strengths for progress

Dimitri de Vreeze, who advocates leveraging research and innovation strengths for advancement, challenges the idea that Europe is a museum of the world. Focusing on bioscience, technology advantages, food, and agro-technology, he emphasises the need for public-private partnerships to foster competition and innovation. Talent retention strategies, such as the proposed science passport, ensure researchers contribute to the region’s progress. The call to act as one entity under a Science and Research European Passport underscores the importance of unity, albeit with a plea for flexibility and reduced control to foster innovation autonomy.

Cultivating a culture of innovation

Luciana Lixandru sheds light on Europe’s struggle to fully realize its economic output from its science and research potential. Key recommendations include combining fundamental and applied sciences for faster innovation and fostering a culture that embraces failure as a valuable learning experience. Lixandru promotes more public-private partnerships, talent retention strategies based on the US model, and the potential of well-known venture capital firms, like Sequoia, to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in Europe.

 Nature, Outdoors, Sky, Text

Navigating funding gaps and technological frontiers

Iliana Ivanova highlights the persistent funding gap in European research and innovation, emphasising the importance of AI and high-performance supercomputing. Horizon Europe emerges as a beacon for global collaboration, but challenges persist in regulatory frameworks and the scaling up of the venture capital market. Efforts to simplify administrative processes and reduce reporting requirements aim to enhance the efficiency of science and innovation funding, addressing the need for additional investment and improved access to finance.

Harnessing talent amidst challenges

Maria Leptin posits that Europe’s abundance of talent isn’t fully capitalised, with concerns raised about lagging research funding and innovation compared to global competitors. The European Research Council’s success in start-ups underscores Europe’s potential for innovation and economic growth. Collaborative efforts are impeded by research and brain circulation obstacles, highlighting the need for more hospitable research environments, upgraded infrastructure, and talent attraction and retention plans.

Stay tuned for real-time updates and just-in-time reporting facilitated by The Digital Watch Observatory’s AI-driven App! Keep this page bookmarked to access comprehensive reports from all publicly broadcasted sessions.

Rekindling Europe’s scientific innovation

Nikolai Denkov addresses Europe’s decline in scientific innovation, attributing it to the slow integration of fundamental and applied sciences. He advocates for a culture of experimentation and collaboration between the public and private sectors, citing the need for a more flexible regulatory environment. Denkov proposes a modular approach to big projects, public sector initiation of funding for promising technologies, and streamlining the evaluation process to reestablish Europe as a leader in scientific innovation.

Transitioning from patent to product

The audience echoes the need for additional support in the transition from patent to startup, emphasising the importance of research and innovation on a global scale. Concerns about potential exclusivity in strategic sectors and criticism of bureaucratic complexities in accessing public funds underscore the challenges faced. The preference for the streamlined US public funding model suggests a need for efficiency in supporting research efforts.

Addressing challenges through active public involvement

José Luis Escrivá identifies major European challenges, including a lack of risk-taking, excess regulation, talent attraction, retention issues, and the imperative to enhance knowledge transfer. Proposing solutions, Escrivá suggests using funds from the next generation the EU to fill the venture capital gap, completing the single market, and establishing a single labor market for increased mobility. The importance of incentivizing risk-taking, rewarding talent, and promoting knowledge transfer highlights the role of active public involvement in addressing Europe’s challenges.

Download the Dig.Watch News+ mobile app from Google Play or the App Store to have instant access to our reports on your mobile device.