Fostering Innovation Cohesion

Data shows that in the EU the capacity for research and innovation differs greatly between Member States. This innovation divide between top performing and underperforming countries poses a threat to the economic efficiency, cohesion and social stability of the EU.

Europe has for a long time focused on science and research resulting in a globally leading knowledge portfolio in the form of scientific publications, patents, and key enabling technologies. A major challenge for the completion of a European Innovation area is to overcome the innovation divide between member states and regions. Commissioner Mariya Gabriel stressed that Europe still has difficulties turning all the good ideas and knowledge into innovations, economic activities, and productivity gains. Big potentials, in particular in new member states remain untapped. At the same time there is a great opportunity through better-linking education and entrepreneurship. There are more and more universities that build innovation ecosystems around their campuses sometimes referred to as “University Valleys”.

Several programmes have been designed to increase the innovation performance of less innovative countries and regions. The Widening Participation and Spreading Excellence actions contribute to building research and innovation capacity specifically for countries lagging behind. With the support of the European Innovation Ecosystems Programme and the synergies with the Structural Funds Programmes, innovation actors will be able to upgrade their research and innovation systems, making them stronger and allowing the EU as a whole to advance together. A particular role is played by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) with links to the Smart Specialisation Strategies and extended Regional Innovation Schemes.

In addition to the MFF instruments, the NGEU funds will finance the transition towards a digital and green future where the development of new technologies and impact innovations are the main drivers.

Improved innovation cohesion is one of the 8 Focus Areas of the European Innovation Area (EIA) initiative that will help connect innovators and ecosystems across Europe and provide great opportunities for cooperation and improved cohesion.

The overall objective of this debate is to provide a platform for policy makers and stakeholders to have an in-depth discussion about shortcomings and actions needed to foster innovation cohesion. What opportunities are presented through the various EU funding instruments (MFF) and what can we expect from the “Next Generation EU” funds to overcome the innovation gap between member states? What can be learned from high performers? What is the role of governance, infrastructure, and innovation support organizations?

  • Welcome and Introduction

Maria da Graça Carvalho, MEP, Chair of the K4I Forum, EPP, Portugal

  • Keynote

Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth

  • World Bank Report: Public Expenditure Reviews on Science, Technology, and Innovation

Natasha Kapil, Senior Private Sector Specialist in the Finance, Competitiveness, and   Innovation Global Practice, in the Europe and Central Asia region of the World Bank Group 

  • Reaction from the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science
  • Contributions from Innovation Ecosystem Actors

Raw Materials Innovation Ecosystem Activities

Bernd Schäfer, CEO, EIT RawMaterials

  • Innovation ecosystems for a strong digital Europe

Willem Jonker, CEO, EIT Digital 

  • University Innovation Valleys

Servaas Duterloo, Head of EU Research Funding & International Programmes, TU Delft

  • Unicorns – Hot spots for startup innovation ecosystems

Fabrizio Porrino, Head of Secretariat, EU Unicorns Group

  • Best practice examples from regions, cities, universities

Moderator: Lambert van Nistelrooij, Honorary President of the K4I Forum, former MEP

Victor Negrescu, MEP, K4I Forum Member, S&D Romania

  • The role of the Committee of the Regions in fostering innovation cohesion

Markku Markkula, President Helsinki Region, Vice-President European Committee of the Regions, CoR

  • How Smart Specialisation can foster innovation cohesion

Dimitri Corpakis, Friends of Smart Specialisation

Krzysztof Gulda, Experienced Innovation Expert, Member of the H2020 Expert Group on support for the strategic coordinating process for partnerships at European Commission, Former Director in the Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Science and Higher Education

  • Engaged’ in the Region – the case of the Innovation Food Hub

Anu Manickam, PhD, Researcher Hanze University of Applied Science

  • Green transition as a driver to foster innovation cohesion 

             Prof. Phoebe Koundouri, Athens University of Economics and Business Fellow World Athens University of Economics and Business; Fellow World Academy of Art and Science ; President-Elect of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists; Co-chair SDSN Europe & SDSN Greece.

  • Moderator: Roland Strauss, K4I Managing Director
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Members of the European Parliament