EU urges 'closer ties' between science and industry

October 11, 2013
EU urges 'closer ties' between science and industry
Credit: Shutterstock

Bridging the gap between research institutes and enterprise is central to advance innovation and competitiveness in Europe, argue EU officials and industry leaders.

But how to get these separate orbiting planets acquainted with one another was the subject of heated debate at the 5th European Innovation Summit, held in Brussels last week.

Many scientists find it difficult to relate to businesses, the pursuit of dissimilar objectives often leave one if not both parties alienated. Commenting on the mistrust between businesses and scientists, Chief EU Scientific Advisor, Anne Glover, said 'we need to recapture the trust between all stakeholders.' 'Many scientists think that business just wants to exploit them commercially,' she said.

Similar sentiments echoed by business leaders suggest don't understand the real world, are reluctant to share their results or unable to work under pressurised business time-scales.

Glover suggests that should these attitudes continue, Europe will miss out on the benefits of investing in research and European businesses will become less competitive.

The common misconception that the European economy is dominated by large multinational enterprises is one of the many barriers to success facing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which make up more than 99% of all European businesses. The rapid nature of societal evolution requires a fast response which is a task multinational companies struggle to achieve.

'When you're small, you're faster on your feet,' says Glover, referring to the dynamic nature of many SME models. However, SMEs are not equipped with enough resources to thoroughly engage in experimental research and development activities. Glover suggests the fall out could be addressed by encouraging partnerships between SMEs and established research institutions better able to carry out R&D activities.

Dr Giorgio Anania, CEO of Aledia, now involved in his fifth start-up voiced concerns over the lack of a U.S-style Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem in Europe. 'It's about ramping up quickly and down if needed to,' 'Europe needs to foster a risk adverse mindset in its youth,' he added.

Industry leaders were united in their belief that Europe is not short of knowledge; they suggest the gap between transforming science and research into innovation for economic growth and social well-being can be overcome by leveraging public and private sector relationships.

Eureka - a platform focused on turning new technologies into marketable products, is working directly towards building cross-sectoral links. Kristin Danielsen, International Director of the Research Council of Norway and Eureka Chair, stressed the importance of cross-border collaboration in driving growth in Europe.

'So far the vast majority of research programmes in Europe are run in an isolated way leading to inefficiency. I strongly believe that helping small companies grow into middle-sized ones and to become internationally-open businesses will be central to the enhancement of European competitiveness,' she said.

Eureka's joint programme with the European Commission - Eurostars - is specifically tailored to SMEs focusing on innovative technologies. Eureka estimate that Eurostars is set to create 30 000 jobs over the course of the next European financial period.

The SMEs in Europe event was part of a series of workshops held at the European Parliament during the 5th Innovation Summit to launch the newly revised funding programme for research and innovation - Horizon 2020.

Explore further: Forum calls for 'integrated approach' toward European research and innovation

More information:

Related Stories

Lighting the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions

January 7, 2013

Recycling, reusing and reducing are all ways in which Europeans are assisting in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is a far cry from the days when we threw everything away without thought. Now we know it ...

Economic survey reveals obstacles to small business growth

July 19, 2013

Banks' continued reluctance to lend to small businesses, coupled with the bite of public spending cuts, are the two greatest obstacles to growth of small and medium sized enterprises, according to a two-year study of business ...

Entrepreneurial women needed to create growth and jobs

November 1, 2012

When it comes to adopting an entrepreneurial spirit, it's the men who have the edge. Despite European women accounting for over half of the population, they only make up a third of the EU's entrepreneurs, which is why the ...

Recommended for you

Clues to ancient past—baby mummy, dinosaur skulls scanned

September 22, 2017

The mummified remains of a 7-month-old baby boy and pieces of skull from two teenage Triceratops underwent computed tomography (CT) scans Saturday, Sept. 16, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, in hopes ...

Neanderthal boy's skull grew like a human child's: study

September 21, 2017

The first analysis of a Neanderthal boy's skull uncovered in Spain suggests that he grew much like a modern boy would, in another sign that our extinct ancestors were similar to us, researchers said Thursday.

Early trilobites had stomachs, new fossil study finds

September 21, 2017

Exceptionally preserved trilobite fossils from China, dating back to more than 500 million years ago, have revealed new insights into the extinct marine animal's digestive system. Published today in the journal PLOS ONE, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.