Brussels, 14 May 2003
The Commission's recent communication on innovation was given a warm welcome by ministers attending the Competitiveness Council in Brussels on 13 May, who emphasised the important role that state aid can play in boosting innovation and called for the conception of innovation to extend beyond technological innovation.
The Council welcomed the communication 'Innovation policy: updating the Union's approach in the context of the Lisbon strategy', which takes as its central theme the multi-dimensional nature of innovation.
'Innovation goes beyond technological innovation and can take many other forms, such as through the development of new business concepts, new means of distribution, marketing or design and through organisational or presentational change,' the draft Council conclusions say.
Ministers also recognised the importance of access to finance as a prerequisite for innovative enterprises, particularly small firms. They suggested that the European Investment Bank could play an important role in this respect. They also called on Member States and acceding countries to redirect State aid so as to stimulate innovation, while 'bearing in mind the need for a global reduction of state aid.'
The Council also asked the Commission to consider previous failures to both generate and disseminate innovation when it comes to reviewing the Community framework on State aid. Ministers suggested that this would be an opportunity to support the creation of an environment conducive to innovation.
On benchmarking, the Council requested that the Commission update the innovation scoreboard in order to take account of the multidimensional nature of innovation. Ministers also called for coherence between the various related benchmarking exercises, such as the innovation scoreboard, the enterprise scoreboard and the science and technology key figures. For their part, Member States were invited to improve innovation indicators and to set both quantitative and qualitative targets at national level. To see the Council conclusions, please visit: http://ue.eu.int/pressData/en/intm/75728 .pdf