Digital experts share ideas on translating research into European jobs

19 Jun 2013

A special workshop is running today at Dublin Castle involving research institutes, companies and start-ups as part of the European Digital Agenda Assembly that kicked off in Dublin this morning. The goal of the brainstorming session is to shed new light on the innovation process, including how R&D can be commercialised, spawning new start-ups and, ultimately, European jobs.

Some 600 delegates from across Europe are convening in Dublin for the two-day Digital Agenda Assembly, including EU Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes who heads up the EU’s digital agenda.

Seven workshops are taking place today, involving digital experts from industry, government and the academic arena who will share ideas on ICT, broadband speeds in Europe and upping digital skills. One workshop is focusing on how to best translate research and innovation into jobs on the continent.

Those who are involved in the workshop include Efstratios Kehayas, the young adviser to Kroes, Gee Rittenhouse, the new president of Bell Labs; and Martin Curley, director of Intel Labs Europe.

Driving digital growth

Ben Hurley, the CEO of the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) in Dublin, is moderating the workshop. A key focus of the session will be on how innovation is a driver of economic growth. Delegates will also be discussing the new EU R&D funding programme, Horizon 2020, that is set to come into force in 2014.

Today’s event is also featuring insights from Ken Cahill, CEO of the Irish start-up SilverCloud Health, and Fergal Ward from Intune Networks.

Speaking at the start of the workshop in Dublin Castle this morning, Hurley said jobs and growth must be central to investments in research and innovation. He said the real-world experience brought together at the assembly will help form policies designed to best achieve this.

“Jobs and growth are not the output of research and innovation, they must be a consequence of research and innovation that has been successfully transformed into something of market-ready utility,” explained Hurley. “In other words, growth can be driven by the correct policies that aid research commercialisation.”

Valley of death

Referring to the valley of death phase that start-ups experience, Hurley said that during the lifecycle of a concept from its research phase to its market deployment phase, it is the transformation step that is probably the most uncertain and high risk.

“Only one in 10 ventures succeed, which is in contrast with earlier research phases – where even a negative outcome can rightly be considered a success because it enhances understanding – and the later commercial investment stages,” said Hurley.

“This highlights the necessity in pursuing policies which best aid the commercialisation process.”

You can follow the workshop in real-time via the European Commission.

More on the Digital Agenda Assembly

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic