Brussels, 12 Dec 2003
A conference addressing innovation in Europe on 10 December heard senior policy makers from Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, the US and Brussels present their strategies for boosting innovative capacity.
The event, entitled 'boosting innovation from research to market', took place in Brussels, and coincided with the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo. Switzerland's State Secretary for Science and Research, Charles Kleiber, pointed out that while his country had the highest number of Nobel Laureates per capita, and one of the highest scientific productivities in the world, growth is nonetheless stagnant.
Mr Kleiber blamed this stagnation on a 'breakdown in innovation'. In order to combat the phenomenon, his government has introduced an innovation programme for Switzerland, which promotes lifelong learning, public private partnerships, international thinking and the importance of thematic clusters.
Norway's Minister for Trade and Industry, Ansgar Gabrielsen, said that a decline in investment within the country's large petroleum sector means that Norway needs to act now to secure its future prosperity, which in turn means increasing innovation capacity.
The Norwegian government therefore plans to introduce a more comprehensive innovation policy, with a focus on improving overall framework conditions, rather than concentrating on any single industry. This would include a major tax deduction scheme for investments in research and development, Mr Gabrielsen revealed.
Also speaking at the event was Klaus Gretschmann, Director General of the Council of the European Union DG responsible for competitiveness and research. He told delegates that the Lisbon process had entered the 'concrete phase', and highlighted the Initiative for Growth as an important landmark in EU innovation policy.
The event concluded with Norwegian State Secretary for Education and Research, Bjorn Haugstad, highlighting what he believes to be key strategies for boosting innovation. 'We need good, targeted innovation policies and practices, and must learn these from each other,' he said, underlining the importance of technology transfer, not only within Europe but also on a transatlantic basis.
Mr Haugstad also stressed a 'bottom up process of innovation' with sufficient support at grassroots level for small businesses, and with the support of all sections of society. 'We need to find more and better instruments for supporting regional innovation [...] and facilitate strong and lasting partnerships between private companies, research institutes, universities and the public sector,' he concluded.