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Innovative ideas

Consultant Arnold Verbeek tells Tania Rabesandratana how his practical research on innovation policy supports the European Commission.

Innovation was a hot topic in university economics departments long before European Commission president José Manuel Barroso cast Europe as an “Innovation Union” last year. But Arnold Verbeek, who works at Brussels-based consultancy Idea Consult, which furnishes the Commission with ideas and data to support its policymaking, says he left academia in part because applied research into policy measures wasn’t considered “a legitimate research subject” by some of his colleagues.

Verbeek began his career as an economist at Catholic University Leuven, Belgium, in 2000 after a short stint at the international consulting company KPMG. By the time he left for Idea Consult in 2005, he recalls: “There was a lot of research on innovation, but looking into practical policy questions was considered somewhat inferior” to research into economic theories.

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