World’s brightest tech, science, research minds talk innovation in Brussels

5 Dec 2011

Double doors as you exit European Commission HQ in Brussels

Some of the world’s brightest minds, from fashion designer Vivienne Westwood to Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and physicist Prof Andre Geim, will be in Brussels today for the first-ever EU Innovation Convention, which will explore how innovation will be key to creating jobs and getting Europe back on a positive economic trajectory.

European Commission president José Manuel Barroso will officially open this afternoon the Innovation Convention, organised by European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

The convention will take place over two days in Brussels, and more than 1,200 delegates are expected to attend, including chief executive of Ryanair Michael O’Leary.

At the event, Geoghegan-Quinn will also sign a co-operation agreement between the EU and the European Investment Bank on a new Risk-Sharing Finance Facility to support higher risk and reward investment in research and innovation.

The event looks set to be a creative collusion of some of the world’s brightest people from across all sectors involved in research, innovation and science. Here’s a flavour of the range of speakers:

  • Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google
  • Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer, Microsoft
  • Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer
  • Andrew Witty, CEO, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Jean-Paul Agon, CEO, L’Oreal
  • Ben Verwaayen, CEO, Alcatel-Lucent
  • Sam Pitroda, adviser to the prime minister of India on public information infrastructure and innovation
  • Prof Sir Lescek Borysiexicz, vice-chancellor, Cambridge University
  • Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and MD, Biocon, Bangalore
  • Silvia Venturini Fendi, creative director, Fendi Accessories
  • Dr Margaret Chan, director-general, World Health Organization
  • Phillipe Maystadt, president, European Investment Bank (EIB)
  • Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist, author and professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University (1985-2008)
  • Will Hutton, chair, Big Innovation Centre
  • Dr Henry Chesbrough, ESADE Business School, Haas School of Business-UC Berkeley
  • Prof Andre Geim, physicist and Nobel Laureate in Physics, 2010, University of Manchester
  • Prof Dr Helga Nowotny, president of the European Research Council
  • Don Tapscott, chairman, Moxie Insight
  • Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair
  • Prof Xue Lan, executive associate dean of School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University
  • Herbert Reul MEP, chairperson of the European Parliament Committee on Industry, Technology, Research and Energy (ITRE)
  • Leo Enright, chairman of the Irish Government’s science awareness programme.

Developing an EU innovation environment

The over-arching aim of this convention is to drive home the message that innovation is the key to sustained growth and job creation. This is vitally important if we are to develop new goods and services people will use, that will help to improve the quality of our living and ensure we can build a better society, both in a European and in a global context. Developing a proper innovation environment is a central component of the Europe 2020 Strategy, said Geoghegan-Quinn today.
“We have to introduce new political and regulatory changes in Europe if we are to properly implement the objectives of the Innovation Union flagship initiative. We must ensure that more innovative practices are introduced in both the public and private sectors in Europe.  Europe is home to the best scientists in the world but we must introduce changes so that we can properly translate new scientific breakthroughs and develop new products for the future,” she said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also pre-recorded an address that will be shown at the opening of the convention today.

For further information, visit the Innovation Union website.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic