Change the mind-set around innovation in Europe

Europe needs a fresh cycle of innovation to create a more "reactive economy"
Innovation in Europe
by Science|Business (original entry)
Europe needs a fresh cycle of innovation to create a more "reactive economy" that can absorb shocks and bounce back, EU Education Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou tells Start Up! - The European Entrepreneurship Summit.
The role of entrepreneurs in promoting growth and job creation "cannot be overstated" Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth told the European Entrepreneurship Summit in Brussels on 21 February.

Congratulating the winners of the Science|Business ACES awards and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) awards, Vassiliou said, "We need more entrepreneurs like the ones we are celebrating today."

The credit crunch and underlying structural problems are making it difficult for would-be entrepreneurs to get financial backing and the other support they need. The EIT was created in 2008 to redress these deficits and at the same time address huge social problems such as climate change and energy supply and security. "Three years ago [EIT] was just on paper," now the EIT awards are, "proof of the fact that EIT is working," Vassiliou said.

The key change brought about by the EIT has been in persuading education to play a bigger role in fostering entrepreneurship, by interacting more with industry and training students in business skills alongside their scientific studies. At the current time many member states have a high number of unemployed graduates. "We badly need cooperation between business and educational institutes," to address this Vassiliou said. There needs to be structured, two-way collaboration, with university professors advising business and business people teaching students.

Most enterprises in the next decade will depend on people with a deep knowledge of science and technology, but also skills in innovation. This calls for a change in mind set. "We need to develop a spirit of initiative," Vassiliou said. At the same time there should be support for people if they start a business and it fails.

"Ultimately people are at the heart of innovation," said Vassiliou. After only three years EIT has created its first innovations and first entrepreneurs. "It's satisfying to see a dream is coming true. Young people with excellent ideas are not scared of trying," Vassiliou concluded.