The New European Innovation Agenda must strengthen the roles of universities in driving innovation
Published on 5 July, the New European Innovation Agenda puts forward a number of key actions to develop the innovation ecosystems in Europe. By putting emphasis on deep tech, the Agenda misses to embrace all types of innovation and neglects the crucial role of some actors, including universities, in developing these ecosystems.
The Guild acknowledges the relevance of the five pillars of the New European Innovation Agenda and welcomes its initiatives to improve synergies between existing policy and funding instruments. However, for the Agenda to reach its objectives, it is crucial that it connects effectively innovation with research, enabling universities to strengthen their capacities for innovation.
Part of universities’ core mission is to nurture talents by providing the cutting-edge skills and capacities that innovation requires. The New European Innovation Agenda puts emphasis on training future entrepreneurs and providing students with the skills that industries in local and regional ecosystems need. While we recognise the importance of entrepreneurship education at universities, we emphasise that innovation requires a wider range of skills and that these skills should be future-proof. This implies supporting the development of study programmes which aim to train for a mindset-creativity-problem-solving attitude.
Additionally, the Agenda highlights the need to develop testing labs and regulatory sandboxes. While the universities already offer innovation services to companies and other institutions, they could also provide safe environments to develop new technologies, and ensure that the innovations comply with existing regulatory frameworks and do not pose threats to individuals, their fundamental rights or our society’s values.
Finally, The Agenda should put forward actions to support universities in their activities crucial for the emergence and development of local and regional innovation ecosystems. In this respect, their technology transfer officers should be recognised as critical interfaces between research and non-academic actors and further supported in this role.
“The New European Innovation Agenda must involve universities to ensure that deep tech innovations have the required knowledge base to emerge from, grow and develop. More importantly, we must address the need to create cutting-edge knowledge across all sectors to support innovation in all domains, including societal innovation. This means identifying areas where the link between blues-skies research and innovation is exemplary, for instance in successful technology transfer offices as well as in the proven capacity of European Research Council grantees in winning Transition funding from the European Innovation Council. Building on these examples will transform Europe’s capacity for innovation,” Jan Palmowski, Secretary-General of The Guild, emphasised.
7 July 2022
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