Press Release – 12th European Innovation Summit: Towards a European Innovation Area

From 7 – 11 December, more than 1000 innovation actors and policy makers gathered at the 12th edition of the European Innovation Summit to discuss about barriers and actionable ideas for a vibrant European Innovation Area, the transformative power of Artificial Intelligence and the huge potential of women-led VC funds, startups and businesses that can be reviewed in the special Innovators Magazine.

Europe is a knowledge superpower. It has a unique knowledge base developed by almost 2 million researchers and an annual investment of 200 billion euro that translates very successfully in high numbers of patents and scientific publications. Unfortunately, the great knowledge of Europe’s citizens is not sufficiently turned into innovative solutions and fast-growing, world-leading companies.

If we want to overcome Europe’s innovation deficit and improve the impact from our wealth of knowledge and ideas, we need to improve our support on the way from knowledge to innovation and market creation. There are many best practice examples such as turning university campuses into innovation ecosystems and connecting students and PHDs with entrepreneurship centres. However, if we want to realize the full potential of Europe’s innovation capacity, we need to do more: we must overcome the innovation divide and equally important exploit the potential of women-led VCs, startups and businesses.

During various interventions, Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth explained her vision and the benefits a European Innovation Area can bring.

“With a truly pan-European innovation ecosystem we can create the conditions for new business ideas to grow like never before. We can also catch up with other parts of the world, like America and China, which today nurture 80% of unicorns – far outstripping the 12% coming out of the EU. Because in their current form our local innovation ecosystems, though vibrant, are too fragmented and disconnected to bridge the gaps that exist. It is time to raise the bar now and go much further in forging a cohesive, interconnected system, where we no longer have a situation where it is easier to contact an investor in Silicon Valley than in Europe.

By taking a decentralised co-creation approach we can develop a European Innovation Area that is built by innovators for innovators. One which offers equal access to funding and where startups in one country can easily bid for public contracts in another. Where startups and corporates work more closely together and where there have strong European associations bringing together all the actors of the European innovation ecosystems. I want us to achieve this and to nurture a networking culture fit for the 21st century, where all players are able to easily connect at a local and European level. And I also want to see the increased participation of women led startups.”

In conclusion she invited female founders, and all involved in this year’s European Innovation Summit – as well as those in the wider innovation community, to reach out to her and share actionable ideas for how we continue to take European innovation jointly forward.

Together with the K4I Forum Chair Maria da Graça Carvalho and our political members, the European Partnerships, EIT KICs, universities and other innovation accelerators, we will work with Commissioner Mariya Gabriel to make the European Innovation Area a success-story for the benefit of Europe, our citizens, enterprises and common values.

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