Industry applauds the European Commission’s ‘Innovation Union’, tabled yesterday. It is not only a forward thinking and strategic approach to innovation in Europe; it also outlines a clear ambition to bake research and innovation policies into the European policy framework.

The ‘Innovation Union’ sets out a strategic approach to innovation driven by the highest political level. Co-operation within the European research area, as well as with third countries, is a positive step forward in addressing major societal challenges such as, climate change, energy and food security, health and ageing population.

As a flagship of the Europe 2020 Strategy the ‘Innovation Union’ will help align policy in member states and aid the development of concrete solutions to today’s genuine and important challenges in society. It also leverages opportunities for domestic business and export led economic growth.

However, governments still need to facilitate access to early-stage finance and create a single market for venture capital if we are to unlock our full innovation potential. We can only achieve a wide-scale competitive and innovation based society if we create a fertile environment and investment in ground-breaking ideas and technologies. This will be the linchpin to competing in the post-recession global economy.

From the perspective of industry, a key element of the ‘Innovation Union’ is the streamlining effect that the new European Innovation Partnerships will bring to existing initiatives such as Joint Technology Initiatives, Public Private Partnerships, European Institute of Innovation and Technology, Lead Markets, Framework Programme. Furthermore, national and regional programmes, which to date have had few mechanisms for enabling a coordinated response, will be better equipped to respond to critical global issues.

Now is the time to unleash the purchasing power of the public purse to support private R&D and its transition into real innovative goods and services. The essential method is through pre-commercial public procurements.

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