A boost of confidence for the EU: two new European Innovation Partnerships launched
Raw material supply, sustainable agriculture, and active and healthy ageing are three of the biggest problems facing the EU today, and dealing with them effectively is essential for fostering growth and creating jobs. With this in mind, on 29 February the European Commission unveiled its plans for two new European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) that will go some way to meeting these challenges.
Two EIPs will focus on 'Raw Materials' and 'Agricultural Sustainability and Productivity' respectively.
When Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, launched the Innovation Union package, a flagship Europe 2020 initiative, back in October 2010, she also unveiled new plans for EIPs. EIPs bring together public and private stakeholders across borders and sectors to address bottlenecks in the European research and innovation system that prevent good ideas from being developed and getting to market. This can be due to under-investment, outdated regulation, lack of standards, or market fragmentation.
The aim is to identify specifically what needs to be done to ensure innovative ideas get to market faster; this can involve further developing technologies or stimulating demand across public and private sectors.
At the launch of the new EIPs, European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, said: 'We need to innovate to get Europe back on the path to growth and jobs, and to tackle major challenges such as access to raw materials, sustainable agriculture and our ageing society. European Innovation Partnerships will break down silos, remove bottlenecks and focus our efforts on results that matter to our citizens and our businesses.'
The EIP, which aims to overcome Europe's raw materials shortages, will address the increasing pressure being placed on Europe's raw materials supply. As raw materials are essential for high-tech industries, the Commission wants to ensure that Europe is capable of extracting and processing its own raw materials. Estimates of the value of unexploited European mineral resources are currently in the region of EUR 100 billion. New technologies will help to extract deeper, in more remote areas and under harsh conditions. The EIP will also address the need to develop substitutes for critical raw materials and improve recycling of electric and electronic equipment and other waste. Improved access to minerals will enhance the development of innovative products such as thin photovoltaic layers, energy-efficient lighting, electric cars, advanced passenger jets, infra-red optics and fibreglass.
The EIP that focuses on agriculture will deal with the increasing challenges food security poses for Europe. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global food demand is expected to reach 70% by 2050, and there will be a sharp rise in demand for feed, fibre, biomass, and biomaterials. Unfortunately, this demand will come at the same time as a slow-down in production, due to cuts in agricultural research and the effects our actions have had on the environment and natural resources.
The aim now is not only to produce more but to produce more sustainably, as Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos explains: 'The key challenge for agriculture in future is not only how to produce more, but also how to produce better. Embracing demand driven research and innovation, as well as improved dissemination of best practices will be essential to this end.'
EIPs don't replace work carried out as part of funding programmes such as the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7); they are complementary to such programmes.
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Category: General policy
Data Source Provider: European Commission
Document Reference: Based on information from the European Commission.
Subject Index: Business aspects; Coordination, Cooperation; Economic Aspects; Innovation, Technology Transfer; Legislation, Regulations; Policies; Scientific Research; Social Aspects