Innovative Europe calls for risk-taking and strategic choices
Making Europe a forerunner in innovations requires a risk-friendly atmosphere, common strategies, strong joint projects and systematic foresight work. A crucial viewpoint is the change of concept in research and development from technology to innovations and from technology push to demand pull. These key messages were brought up in a conference "Innovative Europe: National strategies for success" on 24 June in Brussels, organised by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and Tekes, Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. Nearly 200 innovation policy stakeholders were attending the conference discussing the role of national governments in Europe's success: Can national innovation strategies contribute to European innovation environment. "The innovation policy challenges for individual European countries are exactly the same as on the EU level: rapid technology change, globalisation, environmental and demographic changes. We don't necessarily have lack of money to invest in innovations, but we have lack of priorities and strategies", said Mr. Esko Aho, President of Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, who was chairing the steering group preparing the proposal for a new innovation strategy for Finland. How the EU succeeds in its economy and innovation policy is a decisive factor for European countries' future success. For example, the new innovation strategy proposal for Finland outlines that the country must be an active participant and a force in planning EU's innovation policy, its strategic choices and implementation. One of the basic choices in Finnish strategy is increasing systemicity, which would be a cornerstone in the EU strategy as well. Innovations are best encouraged in an atmosphere where risk-taking and failure is accepted. People, economy, environment The proposal for the new innovation strategy is in line with the Tekes' focus areas, published earlier this spring. Both emphasize an approach from technology push to demand pull. The target is that economic growth is integrated with the wellbeing of people and the environment. Technologies and innovations create a basis for these objectives. "Now it is essential, how we will implement our strategy. Competitive advantages can be gained through new approaches and practices," says Deputy Director General of Tekes, Dr Martti af Heurlin. The proposal for a national innovation strategy was submitted to Mauri Pekkarinen, Minister of Economic Affairs on 12 June. The preparation of the strategy was under the responsibility of the Innovation Department of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and a steering group chaired by Esko Aho. The report proposes notable new outlines for reforming Finland's innovation policy and an action programme for their implementation.