Boosting competitiveness is the next great challenge for European R&D, says Jerzy Langer
Very few products of the European Commission are as popular as the European Research Council, even after its recent problems. But the ERC was not created just to make researchers happy. The Council was a bid to stem the outflow of talented young Europeans to the United States, and to redress the growing American monopoly over the science Nobel Prizes.
What, then, is the next great challenge to research and innovation in Europe, and how can the bloc’s next R&D funding scheme provide a solution? The problem is maintaining European competitiveness in a global market. Unless Europe gets better at innovating—especially at producing game-changing innovations—its societies will be reduced to consumers of technology invented elsewhere. As the Red Queen told Alice: “It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.”