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Framework and the Innovation Union live blog – 3 of 3

Welcome to Research Europes Framework and the Innovation Union live blog from The International Auditorium in Brussels. Our third session today is Making Framework Work. Our speakers are Piotr Swiatek, FP7 National Contact Point at Research Centre Juelich in Germany, Ladislav Balko from the European Court of Auditors, and Bruno van Pottelsberghe, a professor of Technical Innovation at Solvay University Brussels.

Please read from the bottom up.


Session is drawing to a close. It has been a great first event for us, and hopefully there will be many more. Thanks for following, everyone, if you want to know more, check out the next issue of Research Europe and www.researchresearch.com over the next days.

Signing off…


Van Pottelseberghe respons to audience question, saying he is not criticising DG Research, but thinks it should focus more on research in services and social issues. EU should also think carefully about what drives entrepreneurship and support this. Innovation will follow entrepreneurs.


Panel is now entering discussion with audience.


Van Pottelsberghe says big problems for businesses are lack of single market, lack of subsidies and tax credits, lack of procurement and of course the old, eternal patenting problem. “If you send something to Amserdam you export, if you send it to New York you distribute.” Best example, US entrepreneurs do not come to Europe to start a businesses, the conditions are just not as attractive. Van Pottelsberghe asks: If we do not have common market for trade, how can we have common market for innovation?


Big challenge is to get knowledge transfer going, because of the governance complexity of knowledge creation regulation. With academics the problem is that you cannot ask them to innovate, says Pottelsberghe, because it is so difficult to tell which research will be relevant for innovation, and which wont. The big discoveries are very rare.


Van Pottelsberghe starts off with a bang – “All companies will disappear. The only company that will stay is maybe one that built a Zen Temple in Japan. The only thing companies can to is delay the time it takes for them to disappear.”

“China makes the Lisbon Agenda. They do more R&D than Europe”


Swiatek ends his presentation with saying that we are forgetting our own responsibility when we are talking about the Framework, and later we will blame the Framework Programme for any failrues. There is a lot of responsibility with the member states. There is work to do at home to make the European idea work.

Next speaker is Bruno van Pottelsberghe on Why Europe is not innovating.


Swiatek says now Europe is working on services more than products, as services are becoming more important. “It is less about the telephone, and more about what you can do with your telephone.” But, he says, this also changes the way researchers work with intellectual property.


Industry participation is dropping in Framework Programme from 39 per cent in FP4 to 25 per cent in FP7, despite more targeted money for industry (public-private partnerships and Joint Technology Initiatives). Industry research spending equals 1.8 per cent of EU GDP. For Swiatek, pre-commercial procurement is the answer.


Swiatek asks whether innovation can actually come from prioritised research only. Should we just keep the best characteristics of the Framework Programme and divert money into other funds and use national funding to stimulate innovation in other areas. He mentions Facebook, the World Wide Web and the invention of the hard disk as examples of innovation that happened off the beaten track. This calls for more bottom-up research, he says.


Swiatek includes tourism and gambling industry in high-potential markets for high tech industry. He says that some of these service markets are straightforward partners in research already, but others, for example transport and retail, are underrepresented in Framework 7.


Next speaker on the podium is Piotr Swiatek.


Balko says there is a clear case for continuing ex-post audits, not because of a lack of trust, but because of the benefits they bring, such as a clearer overview of spending. Simplification should not be at the expense of accountability for public money, he says.


Between 2007 and 2009 Court of Auditors found between 2 and 5 per cent error rate in Framework Programme. This was in particular down to double charging of costs, inadequate proof of working time and unjustified allocation of direct costs to projects. However, there has been a decrease in error in the past years.


Balko says that making sure money is spent correctly is even more important in times of financial crisis. But to address effects of crisis we need trust. Trust of taxpayer and trust of researcher are two complementary elements rather than opposing forces. With conflict between the two, Balko insists, Europe will not solve Grand Challenges.


Balko is in charge od final audits of FP-funded programmes. He says mission of Court of Auditors is to make sure cutuzens money is spent well. Citizens have trust in EU to spend money correctly. Court of Auditors acts as financial conscience for EU citizens.


First speaker is Ladislav Balko, European Court of Auditors Member, speaking on auditing and bureacracy surrounding Framework Programme.


Your host for this session is Inga.