26 January, Brussels - The High Level Group (HLG) for the European Innovation Council (EIC), established in 2017 by Research and Innovation Commissioner Carlos Moedas, has published its set of recommendations on how the Council could support innovation in the successor to Horizon 2020.
The EIC is currently in a pilot stage as part of the 2018-2020 Work Programme of Horizon 2020 and is expected to become a core part of the next research Framework Programme.
The group’s recommendations aim to ensure that the EIC can “empower our most talented innovators to fulfil their potential and in doing so help catapult Europe into pole position in the global innovation stakes”.
The recommendations are grouped into four groups: Funding, Awareness, Scale and Talent (FAST).
The report notes that breakthrough innovation requires large investments over a long period of time, and that such funding is not widely available in Europe, whether through venture capital, bank lending or public support. The HLG recommends that the EIC should empower the innovator, simplify and incentivise private investment:
- Simplify current schemes into a small set of “EIC Awards” (grants and other forms of funding) supporting the emergence and the scaling up of breakthrough market-creating innovation
- Enable grants, loans and equity investments to be awarded in combination
- Create an EIC advisory board to put the focus on the innovator
- Change evaluation, selection and management to enable risk taking and flexibility
- Design websites, application forms, etc., with innovators’ needs uppermost
The HLG recognises that Europe needs a flagship initiative on breakthrough innovation that can attract the best innovators and connect local and sectorial ecosystems, and recommends that the EIC champion innovators and communicate success:
- Set up comprehensive monitoring and information systems that combine data from EIC with other sources
- Collect and make available intelligence on emerging technologies coming from national and EU programs
- Communicate success stories
The HLG argues that Europe cannot compete with the US or China on the basis of national and local initiatives and that the EU should leverage European, continent-wide ecosystems:
- Help EIC awardees access high-quality partnerships and networks across Europe
- Continue improving access to risk finance for innovators
- Partner and share practice with other innovation agencies and programmes
- Help EIC awardees overcome regulatory barriers and improve the early identification of regulatory barriers for emerging technologies
Finally, the report argues that Europe needs to better recognise its innovation leaders, and that funding is needed to empower people, create a culture of risk-taking and stimulate entrepreneurship:
- Introduce prestigious “EIC fellowship” to recognise leading innovators
- Pair up EIC awardees with experienced peers
The recommendations will feed into discussions on innovation which will take place in the European Council in March.
Click here to access the full report, ‘Funding - Awareness - Scale - Talent (FAST) Europe is back: Accelerating breakthrough innovation’.