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Eurocommissaris Geoghegan-Quinn over slimme groei (en) - Hoofdinhoud
I am delighted to be with you today and to have the opportunity to address this session. Research, Innovation and Digitalisation are huge areas, encompassing many different and important policy initiatives.
So I would like to concentrate on a few key issues that come within my responsibilities as the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.
But if there is one single thread running through what I would like to talk about, it is about what Europe and Slovakia need to do to get "smart growth".
We need to be smart about how we invest public money in times of economic crisis. We need to be smart about using research and innovation to deliver growth and jobs and to tackle our other big societal challenges. We need to be smart about using the opportunities offered by the European Union in research and innovation. And we need to be smart about reforming our national research, innovation and education systems.
Europe's current crisis is a debt crisis, a financial crisis, but above all, it's a growth crisis. The old recipes just aren't working. Yes, we need to get our fiscal policy back on the right track and at the same time we need to regain lost competitiveness. The smart way of achieving this is by putting research and innovation policy at the heart of Europe's fight for jobs and prosperity.
Our future depends on competitive industries that are able to create jobs. This means investing in research, in new technologies and in creating a climate that boosts innovation.
The Europe 2020 Strategy sets a clear research and innovation investment goal: 3% of GDP in R&D. To give some idea of what's at stake; one study shows that reaching this target could create up to 3.7 million new jobs by 2025.
The leading knowledge and innovation economies are weathering the economic crisis better. The rule seems to be: the higher the average R&D intensity in the past, the better the current economic performance.
That is what "smart" fiscal consolidation is all about - while it is important to balance the national budget, we must not starve of investment the long-term sources of growth and jobs: education, research and development, and innovation.
While the overall R&D intensity in the Slovak Republic - public and private - declined in the 1990s and the first decade of this century, I am pleased that an R&D intensity target of 1% for 2020 has been set.
I am also pleased to note that over the last decade, public support to R&D increased significantly to 238.7 million Euro in 2010. The Structural Funds are also helping, allocating over 2.5 billion Euro to research, technology and innovation in Slovakia over the seven years from 2007 to 2013.
But even for the countries that are already R&D-intensive, it's not just a question of increasing investment, we must also be smart and reform research systems to increase the impact of research and innovation on growth and jobs.
So, in October 2010, the European Commission launched Innovation Union - an overall strategy to improve the basic conditions that allow researchers, entrepreneurs and companies to flourish.
Innovation Union aims to remove any obstacles that prevent innovators from transforming the excellent research that Europe does so well into new products and services that can be sold on world markets.
We need to improve our competitiveness and unleash our potential by faster standard-setting, cheaper and easier patenting, smarter public procurement of innovative products and services and better access to venture capital for innovators and SMEs.
We have made 34 specific commitments in Innovation Union on how to achieve these objectives and I am pleased to say that, according to the State of the Innovation Union 2011 Report published last December, we have already made excellent progress.
Innovation Union was just the first step, the policy. It will be fully supported by Horizon 2020 - our new instrument for European research and innovation funding from 2014.
Horizon 2020 will make our support for research and innovation simpler, more efficient, and more effective at delivering the bigger impacts needed to sustain growth and tackle societal challenges.
Horizon 2020 will be even smarter in giving Europe's researchers and innovators the support that they need. Horizon 2020 represents a radical break from the past Framework Programmes.
Horizon 2020 means simplification. We are bringing all the European-level funding for research and innovation under one umbrella for the first time, with one set of rules for the whole programme.
Horizon 2020 is easier to navigate - both for former participants and for newcomers. Its simplified structure is composed of three distinct, yet mutually reinforcing priorities.
Horizon 2020's First Pillar is aimed at boosting excellence in Europe's science base by enabling the best scientists to carry out research of the highest quality. One important action will be to double to more than 13 billion Euro our support to the spectacularly successful European Research Council. We will also increase to 5.75 billion Euro 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 propose targeted support for the key enabling and industrial technologies that underpin innovation across different industries and sectors.
A dedicated SME Instrument will fill the gaps in funding for the market-driven, high-risk research and innovation projects of SMEs. This new scheme, inspired by the SBIR scheme in the United States, is also a response to the request made by Member States last year to explore how best to meet the needs of fast-growing innovative companies through a market-based approach. A crucial element of the scheme will be a support network offering mentoring and coaching for beneficiary SMEs.
The Third Pillar of Horizon 2020 focuses on Tackling Societal Challenges. Solutions to our biggest challenges such as climate change, food and energy security and an ageing population will only come from groundbreaking research and innovation which brings together the best minds from across Europe - that is where the European Research Area comes in - I'll come back to that later. At the same time, finding solutions to these challenges will offer massive opportunities for European businesses.
Horizon 2020 will continue to fund projects on the basis of excellence. It is true that some regions in Europe have not done as well as they could under existing programmes, but we want to close this gap. So we have to be smart in how we use the instruments at our disposal, and it is the combination of EU research funding and structural funds that will do the trick.
Research and innovation capacity building, through the "Stairway to Excellence", will be one of the core priorities for the future Cohesion policy.
Although the main support for the development of the Stairway to Excellence will come from cohesion policy, Horizon 2020 will also include concrete measures to help widen participation.
The measures proposed under the "Closing the innovation divide" part of the "Inclusive, innovative and secure societies" societal challenge show what we plan in practice.
For example, we have included a twinning action, to link emerging institutions, centres of excellence and innovative regions in less developed Member States to international leading counterparts elsewhere in Europe.
Building links with innovative clusters and recognising excellence in less developed regions, including through peer reviews, and awarding labels of excellence to those institutions that meet international standards, will also be considered.
In addition, the Programme will support the setting up of 'ERA Chairs' to attract outstanding academics to institutions with a clear potential for research excellence. It will also support access to international networks for excellent researchers and innovators who lack sufficient involvement in European and international networks.
There will also be policy support through international peer review and sharing of best practice.
Another key policy innovation that will underpin EU support for research and innovation is the development of smart specialisation strategies that will boost cohesion funding as a driver for excellence.
The idea here is to concentrate on one's particular strengths - while excellence cannot be everywhere, I am convinced that it can be anywhere. That's what smart specialisation is all about.
The Commission will be closely involved in the development and subsequent assessment of these strategies, notably through the work of the Smart Specialisation Platform supported by the Commission's Joint Research Centre in Seville.
It is important that smart specialisation strategies take account of the full range of actions supported by cohesion policy in the development of the Stairway to Excellence, including research infrastructures, business investment, and technology transfer, networking, clusters, open innovation and Key Enabling Technologies.
In 2011 Slovakia adopted the Minerva 2.0 strategy for education, research and the knowledge-based economy, putting forward a sectoral research and innovation agenda.
The Council's recommendations, as part of the European Semester Process, note that the successful implementation of the strategy "should support innovation capacity and could feed into the ongoing preparation of a strategy for investing in smart innovation".
Finally, I believe that all of Europe's Member States and Regions will only fully benefit from the talent, knowledge and ingenuity of our researchers, wherever they work, if it becomes as easy for research institutes, universities and companies to cooperate within the European Union as it is within their own Member States. We need to remove obstacles to the cross-border flow of people, ideas and funding.
Despite some progress in recent years, we have yet to complete the long-promised European Research Area - our "single market for knowledge". Nothing focuses attention like a deadline, so last year the Heads of State and Government underlined the political urgency by calling for the creation of a Single Market for Knowledge, Research and Innovation to be in place by 2014.
The Communication that I intend to launch very shortly will identify a small number of key issues for immediate action that are crucial for achieving ERA and that will make the biggest impact on the economy.
But let me be clear, ERA is not about creating a single research system. It is about connecting up national systems so that we can get more out of them. It is about creating a true single market for research and researchers.
And just as the single market for goods, capital and services has improved the competitiveness of our industries, ERA will boost the competitiveness of our research system.
ERA will start with reformed, smarter university systems that are teaching the technical and scientific subjects that are needed by our business and industry and that can help us improve society.
With last September's policy paper "Supporting growth and jobs - an agenda for the modernisation of Europe's higher education systems", the European Commission is promoting a shift to a new growth model which puts knowledge creation and transmission at the forefront.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It has been a pleasure and an honour to address this conference. I would like to thank my colleague, Vice-President äefčovič, for this invitation, and the American Chamber of Commerce in the Slovak Republic for helping to organise this event at a very appropriate time, when research and innovation are at the top of the agenda in Europe.
I am confident that today's discussions will lead to even better understanding and cooperation between all of us because, of course, working together is the "smart" thing to do.