When I took office as European Commissioner for research, science and innovation, it was important to me to listen to and learn from Europe’s research,
science and innovation communities. There are many things that Europe does extremely well, such as the European Research Council which, in a few short
years, has put in place a unique way of supporting the very best science in Europe. However, it also became apparent to me that the way that science works is
fundamentally changing and an equally important transformation is taking place in how companies and societies innovate. Put simply, the advent of digital
technologies is making science and innovation more open, collaborative, and global.
These exchanges led me to set three goals for EU research and innovation policy, which I have summarised as Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World. These goals, first set out in a speech I gave in June 2015, show how research and innovation contribute across the European Commission’s political priorities. They do not represent a new policy initiative or funding programme as such, but a way to reinforce existing programmes, such as Horizon 2020, and reinvigorate existing policies such as the European Research Area.
This book brings together some of the key conceptual insights behind Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World and highlights actions that are already taking place or are being prepared. For example, the Open Innovation goal has led to a debate on a possible European Innovation Council and the creation of a Seal of Excellence to facilitate links between Horizon 2020 and other funding programmes. The Open Science goal is materialising in the development of a European Science Cloud and greater openness to scientific data generated by Horizon 2020 projects. The Commission has already
taken historic steps to be Open to the World by signing Association Agreements with Ukraine and Tunisia to Horizon 2020, as well as international agreements
with China and South American countries.
As set out in the chapter on Open Innovation, Europe is excelling at many things, but we are not good enough at investing in innovation at speed and scale. This is why Open Innovation is the first goal. Europe has great diversity and is well placed to succeed in the next wave of innovation that will be found at the interfaces between digital, physical and biological technologies, between the arts, business and science, and between data, users and organisations. Innovators do not need help from the EU to come up with great ideas, but the level of success their ideas can ultimately reach is certainly influenced by regulation, financing, public support and market access. The EU is playing a crucial role in improving all these success factors.
Europe is the world’s largest producer of knowledge, but the phenomenon described in the chapter on Open Science is changing every aspect of the scientific method to become more open, inclusive and interdisciplinary. If scientists want to monitor the effects of climate change on local ecosystems, for example, they can now use citizen reporting or data from smartphones. Ensuring Europe is at the forefront of Open Science means promoting open access to scientific data and publications alongside the highest standards of research integrity. There are few forces in this world as engaging and unifying as science. The universal language of science maintains open channels of communication where other foreign policy approaches are not viable. The chapter ‘Open to the World’ sets out the gains the EU can make by maintaining its presence at the highest level of international scientific endeavour and through promoting our competitive edge in global knowledge markets in the information age. I hope that the ideas and initiatives described in this book will stimulate anyone interested in European research and innovation. I would like it to encourage debate and lead to new ideas on what the European Union should do, should not do, or do differently. This book would not have been possible without the dedication and knowledge of the staff in the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation in the European Commission and I would like to thank everyone who contributed with their hard work, discussions and enthusiasm.
Commissioner for Research,
Science and Innovation.