Cultivating hope and pride

Something important seeped into my mind when Pierre Gattaz, President of Business Europe, said in the European Industry Days in February 2019 that we should cultivate hope and pride … Hope for future and pride of our heritage. How to manage disruption so that we not only end up in destruction? Getting the balance right by building our future and not forgetting core achievements of our past: Values, human rights, democracy, free liberal order.

Dialogue is the key European concept, just like diversity. Our design for future is about describing together, how things could be, but this is not that simple. We have communication challenges and obstacles for collaboration. We have confusion of concepts and we do not see the big picture. Poor visibility makes it hard to see what we have, or should have.

If the society does not appreciate the role of knowledge and knowhow, it is not only a problem for science and research community, it is a problem for our democratic system and humanity. This is serious! However, I am positive. Even if there is not yet enough action, we can witness increasing dialogue in Europe. Time factor is crucial. We must take time for learning and, yet, at same time we need to speed up – but what is it we should speed up?

Ecosystem as a concept is obscure even though we know that innovation takes place in ecosystems

Because “spontaneous innovation” does not exist, we need ecosystems and innovation hubs where our companies – big and small – can be part of open innovation, and where they can embrace change, together, with other relevant actors. The message is that systemic approach and engagement of private and public sectors, within large collaborative initiatives, is key for Europe. We should build on strengths we have developed in Europe over the decades, with pride, and take care of sufficient amount of continuity while investing in new opportunities, for hope.

If we think about the next framework programme, we could focus on something like Missions, and if we want to build even more impact by combining resources from several programmes, we could consider Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI). This could be the next evolutionary step. All this can work on paper but in reality it does not work at all, unless we break the silos between Framework Programmes and Structural Funds (read: participation rules) and unless we break the silos between regulation and innovation (read: state aid rules). One can see are good signs, but stamina is still necessary.

We are in an interesting shift right now. Even though we may have some confusion of concepts around European innovation agendas, we can see that there is an emerging R&I test bed market aiming at industrial transformation through upscaling of new technologies. We can also see that ecosystem approach associated with new combinations of funding models, and learnings from PPPs and EIT KICs, will be an issue in the next Multiannual Financial Framework.

Policy coherence towards industrial innovation policy

Market impact, which is about economic outputs, is part of the story. But it takes more to systemic impact, which is about many aspects such as Policy Coherence, Research and Innovation Systems, and Industrial Value Chains in a carbon-neutral economy.

We recognise that there is broad discussion on evolution of industrial policy, innovation policy and science policy – in parallel. Openness, transparency, inclusiveness and collaboration sound good, but may be threat for some… and by the way, how do we measure them? Development and monitoring requires understanding of complex relationships of return on investment between inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts. Crucial learning still needs to be undertaken.

What are the changes we need in the policy perspective? Current science policy is not sufficient in making the conditions right for industry renewal. Traditional industrial policy fails to focus on evolutionary and complex systems and open innovation. Europe needs an industrial innovation policy, with ecosystem approach, to get Climate Action and SDGs implemented. It looks like current institutional governance and regulation need to change too. We cannot afford failure.

Focus on people

The tricky part is that institutions, organisations and power structures need to change. Individuals who start acting differently will be game-changers. I sincerely believe that impact-focused innovation policy must have focus on people, and seek cultivating hope and pride. Knowledge flows with people, knowhow flows with people, change starts with people doing things in new ways. Transformation is about values and it is about attitudes. It is about willingness to listen. It is a great day when you listen more than you talk.

Today, on the International Women’s Day I propose a toast to Superwomen! Of course, we know that they are stakeholders in ecosystems where interaction happens with beloved ones, true friends, great colleagues, grandparents and a functioning day care and education system, in a place where you can live happily ever after.

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