Ireland’s people are key to pivoting Ireland as a place where innovation happens faster, in order to create new industries, a creative economy, and ultimately jobs, Bror Salmelin, adviser for Innovation Systems at the European Commission’s DG CONNECT, told the Innovation Ireland Forum in Dublin this morning.
Salmelin is responsible for innovation, take-up and real-world settings fostering innovation, and Living Labs, in his remit at DG CONNECT.
His key question to delegates at the forum was, how do you make Ireland attractive?
Salmelin about the next wave of innovation – a new wave – for Ireland to bring ideas to commercialisation more quickly. Benefits arising from that would be the potential to spawn new jobs and reducing the brain drain from Ireland; a happier, more connected society; and industry feeding into the university and institute of technology ecosystem and vice-versa.
Other spin-offs could be bringing knowledge back into Ireland. Think PhDs and post-doctorates who are working in places like US space agency NASA.
Innovation is also about the future generation: putting down the foundations for an innovative society that can cradle and nourish the next generation of innovators, inventors, creators and doers: children.
The innovation engine
“For me it’s about making things happen,” said Salmelin. “I’m impatient. If you have a brilliant idea, how do you make innovation happen, fast?”
The key here is scaling up fast, getting your innovation to market before anyone else.
But, it’s also about looking to the consumer – what do they need? Be it an ageing population, be it disrupting the health-tech space, creating better medicines to treat degenerative diseases such as MS, Alzheimer’s, or neurological diseases such as cerebral palsy, or finding cures for things like cancer and cystic fibrosis.
In terms of science and innovation, Salmelin said Ireland and Europe need to move from science-based linear innovation to a new model of innovation – Open Innovation 2.0.
“Innovation is not mainstream anymore. It’s user-centric. Infrastructure matters. Connectivity matters. Technology is an important enabler,” he said. “But it’s not enough.”
He said the world is not linear, but “spiky”.
“Talent attracts talent,” Salmelin explained.
Innovation is also about academic institutions investing in their research base, encouraging entrepreneurship, stimulating rapid prioritisation, stimulating high expectation and ultimately, creating jobs. And, then Ireland feeds in the European, and global ecosystem, and vice-versa.
“It’s creating that mash-up growth.”
‘Innovation Nation: Innovation Europe: Innovation World’
Salmelin said it’s daring to innovate. “Daring to invest in disruptive and architectural innovation.”
This ultimately means government, academia, industry and citizens all communicate, engage, and share ideas, to drive on innovation and scale ideas fast.
Quadruple helix innovation is a word that should really be understood – how to look at the citizen, as one of the activators in the innovation process – together with the other, he said.
“We have heard plenty of the triple helix – but really users need to be the activators and not passive objects for the intellectual process – how to grab the intellectual capacity of everybody.”
“It is really about finding new business structures,” Salmelin said.
And, now we should we looking to our people, our knowledge capital.
Think of the user as a research object, he said. Industry and academia needs to feed into the ultimate target for their innovations: society.
“Make a melting pot of ideas and harvest from that.”
Watch Bror Salmelin deliver his keynote speech at the Innovation Ireland Forum here:
Part 1 – On Horizon 2020, open innovation, and creating a sustainable future with Ireland as an international test-bed:
Part 2 – On how Europe needs to be a living breathing home for research and innovation: