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EC launches Innovation Union proposals

Wide-ranging measures introduced today aim to improve Europe's standing economically and help it compete with India and China

Wide-ranging measures introduced today aim to support innovation, improve Europe's standing economically and help it compete with India and China.

At the unveiling of the plans by European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, and Commission vice president, Antonio Tajani, who is responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, Geoghegan-Quinn described the initiative as the most important piece of legislation of her five-year mandate, saying Europe faced an 'innovation emergency'.

Under the new strategy, the EC will push structural funds and public procurement towards innovation. In addition, it will work to remove the bottlenecks that hamper the translation of knowledge into marketable products.

Further, a cross-border venture capital regime and an expansion of the European Investment Bank's Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) will be deployed to match innovative firms with investors.

Member States will be encouraged to reach the EU target of spending 3 per cent of GDP on research and development, with a major push to create a single EU patent after years of debate.

There will also be an Innovation Scoreboard to measure Member States against each other as they develop innovation and research.

As well as the Innovation Union project, the EC has unveiled its European Innovation Partnerships. The first of these will be a pilot scheme dedicated to healthy ageing, which will act to expand healthy life years by two years by 2020. These partnerships will increase R&D, coordinate investment, speed up standards and mobilise demand, the Commission said.

The Innovation Union announcement has been welcomed broadly.

"Europe's biotech industry is at the forefront of innovation helping to provide solutions for longer, healthier and greener lives," commented Andrea Rappagliosi, chairman of the European association for bioindustries, EuropaBio.

"Global competition is fierce and Europe needs collective commitments towards fostering innovation through decisive political moves such as the Innovation Union. Europe also needs supportive and coherent policies that foster the growth of key innovative sectors such as biotechnology and that allow us to take the lead on the international scene."   

6th October 2010

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