COST hosts breakfast debate at K4I Innovation Summit


Hosting the event was the Romanian Member of the European Parliament, Victor Negrescu, a member of the K4I Governing Board.The meeting featured speakers from research institutes, industry and the European Commission.

What was clear from the discussion is that there is no simple solution. The issue is complex and indeed on the issue of ‘Bottom-up versus Top-down’, most speakers believe both are an important part of the research landscape.

Industry representative Bert de Colvenaer from the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking stressed that industry needs direction from the top – national governments and the EU needs clearly spell out the policy direction so industry knows where it can invest long-term with certainty.

Yves de Weerdt from the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) argued in favour of bottom-up research and even supported unstructured, radical, disruptive innovation: 10% of research projects’ budgets should not be pre-planned but worked out later, based on findings, he suggested.

Kurt Vandenberghe, EC, Director for Climate Action and Resource Efficiency,looked at longer term research and innovation addressing societal challenges and said that in order to support research for ‘systemic innovation\’, based on co-creation and co-development, funding may have to be longer than the usual 3-4 years. Not only will the rules have to change, but this will need clear and consistent long-term direction from the top.

Monica Dietl, Director of COST, asked the audience if it was right for policy makers to try and identify the best ideas. COST is transversal to the 3 pillars of Horizon 2020 and allows a group of people to establish the links between societal needs, industry and technology.

Victor Negrescu MEP said that EU can be a leader in innovation but it isn’t at the moment. Excellent ideas exist, but are often not in contact with industry. Researchers don\’t know which door to knock on. “There are lot of smart people in Europe we don\’t know about. We have to harness their talents.

Europe doesn\’t need a Sillicon Valley, because Europe has more potential than that, Europe doesn\’t need Zuckerberg because there are similar creative European innovators.I don\’t look to create a silicon valley in EU. The European Union is a silicon valley on its own”, he added.