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COST at the 7th European Innovation Summit

Location European Parliament, Brussels
Date 07 - 10 December 2015
Calendar file .vcs  .ics

This year's European Innovation Summit was set to achieve a pact for innovation by discussing the key challenges to a more innovative Europe. COST Actions presented their own contribution to bottom-up innovation as part of a breakfast debate and a plenary session.

The  breakfast debate , hosted by Lambert van Nistelrooij MEP, focused on ways to hold on to innovative ideas emerging in Europe, so that they are commercialised in European countries. The debate started with a series of presentations including researchers involved in COST Actions as well as representatives of similar funding programmes. COST Actions help connect science hubs and researchers and industry all over the continent, which helps the vital exchange of ideas on bringing new technologies to the European market.

The power of leverage in the process of innovation

Dr Georgeta-Mihaela Moisescu (COST Action EP4Bio2Med ) focused on the way her network has been using COST funding to build up a community of 581 researchers and scientists spanning 43 countries worldwide. The common ground they found was electroporation, a technique nowadays used in cancer treatment, wastewater management, food processing and renewables. The community is connecting privately and nationally funded efforts to find new uses for the technique. 

Prof. Richard Harris (Action FP1004 ) presented his network and its efforts to unify the fragmented woodworking industry across Europe , which now employs over 1 million people. Specifically, specialists within the network are researching ways to improve the properties of timber structures and reinforced wood in order to build sustainable structures. The networking funds are used for new collaborative projects, this way minimising redundancies in research. According to Prof. Harris, the eur 15000 per invested per country annually, there is a leverage factor of 67 for every million euros generated from research grants.

Business knows best

EUREKA and the Joint Programming Initiatives also helped paint the picture of European programmes connecting research and industry.  Pointing out that "business knows best", Dr Peter Chisnall (EUREKA) reaffirmed the organisation’s goal for enabling innovative services and products.

Sergio Bertolucci (CERN) stressed that public investment is vital for creating trust , when it comes to attracting industry’s interest in research initiatives. He went on to present ATTRACT , a project led by the biggest science labs in Europe to develop their research technologies (medical and satellite imaging, radiation detectors, open data and advanced manufacturing) into widely applicable commercial products and applications. 

The Next Generation – Mobility, Jobs and Entrepreneurship

The plenary session, hosted by Victor Negrescu MEP, focused on the opportunities and challenges for young innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs to pursue their dream careers and reach their full potential.

Young innovators played a central role in the discussion, presenting best practice examples, highlighting their own experiences and analysing the possible solutions to improve and shape the society we live in. Taking risks, developing an innovation mindset, valuing collaboration and supporting learning mobility counted among the most important instruments that assist aspiring early career investigators and entrepreneurs in their ambitions.

COST Association President, Dr Ángeles Rodríguez-Peña was a keynote speaker alongside the European Commissioner forEducation, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics. She stressed on the importance of creativity, commenting that “the education system must allow youth to discover, explore, be creative and get into the driving seat”. European Commissioner for Education,Culture, Youth and Citizenship,  Tibor Navracsics , also emphasised that “education has a pivotal role in boosting innovation” and it can “shape the society we live in”.

Later on, Dr Sarah McCormack (COST Action TU0802 ) talked about her experience as a young COST researcher, emphasising that "mentoring young scientists and engineers is a vital step in career development". In this sense, the COST framework proved to be instrumental, providing her with leadership opportunities at a very early stage in her career. She therefore concluded that social skills are tremendously important for achieving success in both research and managerial positions.

Furthermore, Dr Georgeta-Mihaela Moisescu ’s speech (COST Action TD1104) focused on empowering young people by encouraging them to apply for EU-granted research projects. She also called on the EU officials to give particular attention to young researchers’ proposals, thus boosting their confidence and supporting their innovative ideas.