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Implementation of the Innovation Action Plan

The European Commission adopted, on 14 January 1998, a report on the implementation of the First Action Plan for Innovation in Europe. This outlines the progress made in implementing the Action Plan, in the year following its adoption, on a proposal from Commissioner Edith Cre...
The European Commission adopted, on 14 January 1998, a report on the implementation of the First Action Plan for Innovation in Europe. This outlines the progress made in implementing the Action Plan, in the year following its adoption, on a proposal from Commissioner Edith Cresson, and its subsequent endorsement by the Dublin European Council in December 1996.

The implementation of the Innovation Action Plan has been a priority of the Commission throughout 1997, in view of the importance attached to research, innovation and entrepreneurship in reducing unemployment. With the EU's heads of state and government focusing on this, most recently at the Luxembourg European Councils of November and December 1997, the implementation of the Action Plan will remain one of the Commission's highest priorities during 1998.

In 1997, implementation of the Plan focused on five main areas:

- Protection of intellectual property: The Commission adopted a Green Paper on patents, which should lead to concrete proposals to make the system more effective. The Commission has also put forward proposals concerning protection of biotechnological inventions and copyright in the Information Society;

- Financing innovation: Attention has focused on mobilizing private capital to help innovative firms. The I-TEC scheme was launched to encourage venture capitalists to invest in the early stages of innovative projects. Additional resources will be made available through the European Investment Bank and the Community budget for innovation financing in 1998 and 1999;

- Regulatory framework and administrative simplification: The Commission has set up the BEST (Business Environment Simplification) task force to propose measures to simplify administrative procedures. Also the Commission is developing new forms of organizational forms for joint research activities, such as the European company statute and EEIGs (European Economic Interest Groupings);

- Education and training: New measures have been introduced to stimulate mobility and to make better use of information technologies. A number of pilot projects to strengthen innovation culture were also launched;

- Gearing research towards innovation: In preparing the Fifth RTD Framework Programme, the Commission has focused on this priority, integrating innovation into all the thematic programmes. It has also moved to provide wider access to the skills and results of the Joint Research Centre.

During 1998, additional emphasis will be placed on:

- Mobilizing Member States and operators concerned in favour of innovation;
- Fostering the emergence, development and growth of undertakings, in particular by using new technologies;
- Promoting new forms of production and marketing;
- Help with the professionalization of innovation support trades, in particular through training projects;
- Facilitating the interconnection or, if necessary, the establishment of innovation networks.

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