A win-win for science and innovation

Last week EU leaders put the subject of research and innovation at the top of the political agenda by dedicating one of their summit meetings specifically to the issue. Today the European Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, conducted a keynote speech highlighting the importance of research and innovation at the Royal Society, London.

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn’s speech opened with her agreement with the Royal Society; to “put science and innovation at the heart of a strategy for long-term economic growth”. She revised that we need to efficiently prioritise resources, and drew attention to the need for continued investment in research and innovation in order to create future jobs, warning that cuts to the sector could jeopardise economic growth. This opinion is supported by economic research, which indicates that reaching the EU’s target of investing 3% of GDP in the sector could create nearly four million jobs in Europe and increase annual GDP by €700 billion by 2025.

The talk was held prior to the release of the Green Paper on future EU funding for research and innovation by the European Commission this week. Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn explained that there have been seven previous Framework Programmes. Rather than creating an eighth however, she proposed a new instrument – a Common Strategic Framework, that would bring together all of the relevant EU tools. This approach, as outlined in the Green Paper, would be supportive of EU policy objectives, and therefore operate on a scale at which major European societal challenges could be dealt with effectively. The Common Strategic Framework would aim to raise scientific excellence in Europe by increasing support and investment to create an attractive environment in which to harness scientific talent. Additional to this, the framework would be simple, with less red tape, allowing scientists to spend more time in the lab and innovators to innovate.

The second speaker of the day, Professor Adrian Smith, Director General for Knowledge and Innovation at the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, agreed with Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn. He stated that directing funding streams toward research and innovation was vital to deliver added value, and that and collaboration between all EU members would be required for success.

In light of today’s talks on research and innovation one thing stands out; it is now time to get focused, get united, and get ahead.