Over the last few years a large push for innovation has taken place within the EU, enabling a halving of the innovation gap with the US. However, variances within the EU have been more stubborn, as displayed in the 2014 Innovation Union Scoreboard, which places countries in four distinct categories in comparison to the EU average (the UK incidentally is placed in the second group, above the EU average). Progress has been made in research and the commercialisation of knowledge, as measured by license and patent revenues, as well as business collaboration in innovation. There is still much work to done, as the trend of rising public R&D expenditure has been offset by declines in venture capital investment and private non R&D innovation investment.
Innovation is a hot topic within the EU, with the Commission announcing that, under Horizon 2020, they will implement a new instrument to encourage innovation amongst SMEs worth about €3 billion over seven years, aimed at helping bring ideas from the drawing board to the market. The first results of the new instrument were released in August. Emphasising the relevance of the issue was last month’s European Service Innovation Centre (ESIC) conference in Helsinki, during which it was concluded that a systemic policy approach is required to support innovation in industry at the regional level.
Bonifacio García-Porras is the Head of Unit for Innovation Policy for Growth at DG Enterprise and Industry. Mr Garcia Porras entered the European Commission in 2000 where he worked on the liberalisation of energy markets. In 2003, he joined the Cabinet of Vice-President Loyola de Palacio and subsequently the Cabinet of Commissioner Andris Piebalgs until 2010, where he had the opportunity to work on the energy and climate change legislative package. Mr Garcia-Porras had been a practicing EC lawyer for seven years prior to joining the European Commission, having studied at the College of Europe (Law) in 1992-1993 (Charles IV Promotion).
Head of Unit | European Commission