Abstract: 

The Key Enabling Technologies (KETs: nanotechnology, micro-nanoelectronics, advanced materials, photonics, industrial biotechnology and advanced manufacturing) are a key source of innovation. They provide the indispensable technology bricks that enable a wide range of product applications as they feed into many different industrial value chains and sectors in heterogeneous ways. They create value from materials to products and services. Due to their transversal nature and systemic relevance to European industries, KETs will catalyse the strengthening and modernising of the European industrial base as well as drive the development of entirely new industries and breakthrough innovations in the coming years. They have the potential to enable sustainable, smart and inclusive growth in Europe by creating substantial jobs, by contributing to the development of products and solutions to address grand societal challenges and by ensuring the Europe can regain its place in the competitiveness race.

Issues:

In the KETs domain, the EU is now facing growing and overwhelming global competition from both developed and emerging economies in particular in North America and East Asia. Although the EU remains resilient, in a position of relative strength, it must now reinforce and rapidly develop its KETs industry to compete for the future.

EU’s major weakness lies in translating its knowledge base / research into marketed goods and services / innovations i.e. crossing the “valley of death”.

Europe should urgently engage in a radical rebalancing of resources and objectives in order to retain critical capability and capacity in these domains of vital European importance. It is essential to address the following challenges:

  • the different understanding of and disparate strategies on KETs by the EU and Member States
  • the investment risks, especially during the crucial development phase
  • the specific instruments needed for supporting KETs
  • the lack of policy focus and coherence.

Questions:

  • What political strategy do we need for KETs?
  • What are the non-technological bottlenecks that have to be addressed?
  • How should a “European model” be designed in order to get most value for Europe?
  • What instruments are needed to ensure full exploitation of KETs?