As part of a conference on the European Research Area (ERA), Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas gave a speech (H/T ScienceInsider). As part of his remarks, he discussed starting a second era for The ERA and the ‘Innovation Union.’
Commissioner Moedas is concerned about how effectively European Union member states have been commercializing the results of their research. It’s not a problem unique to Europe. Finding sufficient funding to take research results and create commercially viable products is always a challenge in part because the perceived investment risks often dissuade potential investors.
Institutional support can help facilitate commercialization, and one means the Commissioner would like to have at the ready is a European Innovation Council (possibly) modeled after the existing European Research Council.
I include the (possibly) because while I understand the urge to duplicate a successful organization for a slightly different purpose, a funding organization for research is not necessarily going to be as effective for funding innovation. If the goal is to make it easier for private companies to invest in promising research, regulatory changes may be more effective than a funding council geared toward supporting potential innovators and/or innovative companies. Hopefully this kind of examination will take place (if it hasn’t already) between now and 2017, when this possible Council will be discussed during the mid-term review of the Horizon 2020 research programme.
There are other things worth following in the Commissioner’s speech. Two things that I will be very interested in watching are his proposal for a European Research Integrity Initiative and the idea of developing a research data repository for the EU. (I don’t think putting it in the cloud is necessarily the greatest idea, at least not without serious access control provisions.)