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A renewed agenda for #ResearchAndInnovation: Europe's chance to shape the future

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The Commission has presented its contribution to the informal discussion that Heads of State and Government will hold in Sofia on 16 May 2018 on research and innovation and the steps needed to ensure Europe's global competitiveness.

Investing in research and innovation is investing in Europe's future. It helps us to compete globally and preserve our unique social model. It improves the daily lives of millions of people here in Europe and around the world, helping to solve some of our biggest societal and generational challenges. The Renewed European Agenda for Research and Innovation presents a set of concrete actions to deepen Europe's innovation capability and provide lasting prosperity.

Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: "Europe has world-class research and a strong industrial base. But we must do better – much better – at turning that excellence into success. New megatrends, such as artificial intelligence and the circular economy, are going to bring profound changes to society and the economy. We need to act fast to be able to lead the new wave of innovation and set the standard for global competition."

Research, Science and Innovation Commissioner Carlos Moedas added: "With growing international competition, Europe needs to act urgently on research and innovation. The proposed €100 billion for the next EU research and innovation programme would be a huge boost. But Europe also needs to reform the support for breakthrough innovation through a new European Innovation Council, and reconnect with citizens through a mission driven approach to research and innovation. We need to future-proof regulations and attract more private investment, in particular in venture capital. It is time to take our ambition to the next level. We must act now to help Europe become the global innovation powerhouse that it has the potential to be."

The Commission welcomes the President of the European Council's decision to schedule a debate among Leaders on Research and Innovation, and invites them to discuss and give strategic orientation to its suggested actions, including by:

  • Ensuring that regulation and financing are innovation-friendly: Proposed measures include giving priority to the transposition of the Directive on preventing restructuring frameworks, second chances and measures to increase the efficiency of restructuring, insolvency and discharge procedures; Increasing the procurement of innovative products and services by public authorities by applying the guidelines published by the Commission today; Swiftly adopting the next EU 2021-2027 budget with the proposed allocation of €100 billion to Horizon Europe and the Euratom research and training programme, as well as other major funding programmes that will provide a significant stimulus to innovation; Rolling out the VentureEU initiative to boost private investment and venture capital; Further simplifying EU State aid rules to facilitate public funding of innovative projects including blending of EU and national funds.
  • Becoming a front-runner in market-creating innovation: The Commission proposes to establish a full-scale European Innovation Council to offer a one-stop shop for high potential and breakthrough technologies, as well as for innovative companies with potential for scaling up. The European Innovation Council will build on the €2.7 billion pilot phase for the period 2018-2020, with the objective to help identify and scale up fast-moving, high-risk innovations with strong potential to create entirely new markets.
  • Launching EU-wide research and innovation missions with bold, ambitious goals and strong European added value in areas to be defined with Member States, stakeholders and citizens. These could range from the fight against cancer, to clean transport or plastic-free oceans. The missions will encourage investment and participation across sectors and scientific disciplines to jointly crack a challenge. They should create synergies with research and innovation strategies at member state, regional and local level.

Background

With only 7% of the world's population, Europe accounts for 20% of global R&D investment, produces one third of all high-quality scientific publications, and holds a world leading position in industrial sectors such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, mechanical engineering and fashion.

Europe is relatively strong in adding or sustaining value for existing products, services and processes, known as incremental innovation. We have seen this in sectors as varied as space, aeronautics, pharmaceuticals, electronics, renewable energy, bio-based industries and advanced manufacturing. We have also taken strides forward in supporting innovation through Key Enabling Technologies, such as robotics, photonics, and biotechnology. These technologies can be used and applied across many industries and are crucial for addressing key societal challenges

But Europe is also lagging behind in many areas. EU companies spend less on innovation than their competitors (1.3% of GDP compared to 1.6% in China, 2% in the United States, 2.6% in Japan, or 3.3% in South Korea). Venture capital remains underdeveloped in Europe. In 2016, venture capitalists invested about €6.5 billion in the EU compared to €39.4 billion in the US, and VC funds in Europe are too small – €56 million on average compared to €156 million in the US. As a result, these companies move to ecosystems where they have better chances to grow fast. The EU is home to only 26 "Unicorn start-ups" (start-ups valued at over $1 billion) compared to 109 in the US and 59 in China. Public investment across the EU falls short of 3% GDP target, and R&D intensity is still uneven among EU regions, with investment and research heavily concentrated in Western Europe. And 40% of the workforce in Europe lacks the necessary digital skills.

Technology-driven innovation, digitization and global megatrends such as artificial intelligence and the circular economy offer huge opportunities but also create new challenges. Global competition is intensifying and threatens Europe's leading competitive position in key industrial sectors. Europe needs to deepen its innovation capability to maintain and improve the European way of life.

More information

Communication: A renewed European agenda for Research and Innovation: Europe's chance to shape the future

Factsheet: A renewed agenda for Research and Innovation: the Commission's contribution to the Leaders' Agenda

Factsheet: EU research and innovation success stories

coronavirus

Update: Co-operation under the microscope in COVID-19 crisis – EAPM EU Presidency Conference report available

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As coronavirus infections soar across the planet, and the death toll rises everywhere, not least in Europe, many are asking why European Union member states were so disconnected from each other strategy-wise, and what the EU can do about improving co-ordination this second time round, writes European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) Executive Director Denis Horgan. 

Well, given that health care is a jealously guarded member state competence, locking-down the answer isn’t easy, and never has been. But that doesn’t help Europe’s citizenry, given that COVID-19 is no respecter of borders and national sovereignty. 

This was one of a myriad discussion items discussed in our recent virtual Presidency Conference entitled ‘Ensuring access to innovation and data-rich biomarker space to speed better quality of care for citizens’. You can read the report here.

As highlighted during the Presidency Conference, there is potential future promise in the European policy context, with the legislative and policy initiatives currently on the EU agenda – most recently – the declaration of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in favour of European Health Union which was discussed during the conference. 

EAPM has always argued for more EU-wide co-operation and coordination in health care, and the current crisis has only made that need more obvious. 

Indeed, for the best part of a decade,  the Alliance has been calling for policies to tackle diseases of many different types - not least cancer - through new science and personalised healthcare, with the backing of many MEPs.

It is apt that throughout the topic-specific discussions of the Presidency Conference, the broader themes that emerged most insistently were collaboration and communication, since these have been the hallmarks of EAPM’s activity since its initiation. 

EAPM is by definition a collaborative exercise, bringing together the broadest range of stakeholders – as this conference again demonstrated. And communication has been at the heart of EAPM’s activity, since its role is not just as a thinktank for refining ideas, but as a vehicle for transmitting those ideas from the world of healthcare to the broader world of policy, where the decisions are made that ultimately shape the way health is delivered. 

Principal recommendations 

Although there was no formal process of agreeing recommendations at the meeting, the following are among the recurring recommendations from the discussions. 

  • Inequalities in access to testing and treatment across Europe must be addressed

  • Adequate data infrastructure and processing capacity must be available.

  • Real-world evidence must be developed and acceptance criteria agreed with regulators, HTA agencies and payers.

  • Greater flexibility in regulatory requirements is needed to accommodate evaluation of products destined for small populations.

  • Multi-stakeholder collaboration must be developed to agree research priorities, standards and quality assurance of testing, and evaluation criteria for testing and treatments.

  • Trust must be developed among citizens about the security and possible  use of their data.

  • Communication must be developed by healthcare stakeholders to persuade policymakers to effect constructive change.  

The link to the report is available here.

1 million genome meeting on 21 October

Registration is still very much open for the B1MG meeting on 21 October. The aim of the the 1 million Genome Project is to support the connection of national genomics and data infrastructures, co-ordinate the harmonization of the ethical and legal framework for sharing data of high privacy sensitivity, and give practical guidance for the pan-European coordination of implementing genomic technologies in national and European health-care systems. 

Thus, the B1MG is a means to bring the different stakeholders together on Oct 21st so as to act as a catalyst to provide a benchmark approach for alignment of complex, fractionated health-care provisions into health-care systems.

Register here and read the full agenda here.

Have the best week possible, and keep safe.

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Brexit

We’re disappointed by EU but a deal can be done, says Raab

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Britain is disappointed by the European Union’s demand that London give more concessions to secure a trade deal but a deal is close and can be done, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Friday (16 October), write Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Sandle.

“We are disappointed and surprised by the outcome of the European Council,” Raab told Sky News.

“We’ve been told that it must be the UK that makes all of the compromises in the days ahead, that can’t be right in a negotiation, so we’re surprised by that but the prime minister will be saying more on this later today.”

“Having said that, we are close,” Raab said of a deal. “With goodwill on both sides we can get there.”

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coronavirus

France reports more than 25,000 new coronavirus infections in past 24 hours

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A doctor, wearing a protective mask and a protective suit, works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated at the Bethune-Beuvry hospital in Beuvry, France. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

The French health ministry reported 25,086 new confirmed coronavirus cases in 24 hours on Friday (16 October), after reporting a record 30,621 on Thursday (15 October), writes Geert De Clercq in Paris.

It also reported that 122 people had died from coronavirus infection in hospitals in the past 24 hours, compared with 88 on Thursday. Including deaths in retirement homes - which are often reported in multi-day batches - the death toll increased by 178 on Friday.

The total number of infections since the start of the year now stands at 834,770, the cumulative number of dead at 33,303.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 rose by 437 to 10,042, exceeding 10,000 for the first time since mid-June, and the number of people in intensive care rose by 50 to 1,800, a level last seen in mid-May.

In the past seven days, France has registered nearly 14,800 new coronavirus infections, which is more than the 132,430 registered during the entire two-month lockdown from mid-March to mid-May.

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