‘Europe is facing an innovation emergency’ – Commissioner warns

17 Oct 2011

Pictured at the Intel European Research and Innovation conference last week: Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, the director of Intel Labs Europe Martin Curley , Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and Intel CTO Justin Rattner

Europe’s Commissioner in charge of research, innovation and science Maire Geoghegan-Quinn has warned that Europe is facing an innovation emergency – with the principle barrier being access to finance.

The Commissioner revealed the emergency while addressing the Intel European Research and Innovation conference last week attended by Intel’s chief technology officer Justin Rattner. Rattner and Geoghegan-Quinn joinly announced that Intel is to locate its new Energy and Sustainability Lab at its massive chip fabrication campus in Leixlip.

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said that Europe’s future depends on competitive industries that are able to grow and create jobs.

“This means investing in research and in new technologies and in creating a climate that boosts innovation.

“We are facing an innovation emergency. We need much more innovation in Europe and we need it fast.”

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said that efforts are being made to speed up the pace of innovation in Europe – such as proposals to create a single European patent and speed up the standard setting at an EU level.

“Perhaps the biggest barrier to innovation in Europe is access to finance,” she warned.

“If we want more fast-growing innovative companies, we have to make financing available to them.”

Plans for an EU-wide venture capital scheme

She said that the EU is attacking the finance issue on three fronts.

“First, by the end of this year, we will put forward a proposal for an EU-wide venture capital scheme, building on the capacity of the European Investment Fund, other financial institutions and national operators.

“Second, during 2012, we aim to lift the remaining legal and administrative obstacles to the cross-border operation of venture capital funds.

“And third, post 2013, we plan to develop a new generation of EU-level financial instruments for debt and equity to overcome market gaps and attract a major increase in private finance for research and innovation,” Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said.

New framework for financing research and innovation

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said that one of her biggest tasks now is to launch a new framework for the financing of research and innovation at the Europea level.

“We want to create a coherent set of support instruments along the whole innovation chain from basic research to market uptake.

“We have to make EU research and innovation funding more efficient, give it a greater impact and make it much easier for participants – our scientists, our universities and our entrepreneurs – to access the money available. And it is crucial to ensure that EU funding gets the best possible value for money, and the biggest possible impact, from every Euro invested,” she said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years