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EUREKA welcomes President Sarkozy’s endorsement of its ‘savoir faire’

At the conclusion of the First European Sessions on Innovation under its EU Presidency , French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated that — especially in these times of major financial uncertainty — Europe should be giving research and innovation a place ‘at the heart of its economy’, and suggested that 2009 become the year of ‘creativity and innovation’.

He also suggested that EU programmes and procedures were stifling innovation through bureaucracy and urged for ‘more formulae and less form-filling’. But it was his endorsement of EUREKA as ‘bottom-up, flexible and of proven effectiveness … a programme that must be exploited to coordinate the use of national research and development budgets,’ that was particularly welcomed by EUREKA representatives present. ‘European governments must put the missing link between knowledge, research and society that is technological and industrial innovation at the very heart of their economies,’ Sarkozy declared. ‘It is imperative that Europe both retain its foothold as the continent of innovation and catch back up with the United States,’ Sarkozy added. ‘The US financial system may have driven us into the ground, but their innovation framework has stimulated entrepreneurship and innovation to immeasurable heights.’ While stating his belief that it disposes of a ‘considerable intellectual potential’, the president deplored the fact that Europe ‘does not succeed in converting research quality into growth’ and suggested ‘a new strategy.’ Dismissing any alleged barriers between fundamental and applied research, Sarkozy proposed the concept of a European academy bringing together ‘all forms of pure science but also economics, management, engineering and open to all players in the field of innovation - both public and private.’ The president also proposed that 2009 be dubbed ‘the year of creativity and innovation’ under the Czech and Swedish EU Presidencies, in order to bring forward the revision of the Lisbon Agenda [from 2011 to 2010], which, he added, had not reached ‘its anticipated goals’. In addition to an EU reinforcement of budgetary commitment to research, Sarkozy suggested increased commitment to initiatives of ‘proven effectiveness, but under-financed’, notably the EUREKA programme . The president concluded by proposing that an ‘Innovation Pact’ be signed by European countries already dedicating more than 2% of GDP to research. This would then be opened up to all 27 EU members. ‘This crisis marks our entry into the 21st century,’ he stated. ‘If we want our presence to be noted, we need to focus on innovation, higher education and training. This is our moment - an historic opportunity.’

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