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Blog: The mindset of openness

Met dank overgenomen van C.M.F. (Carlos) Moedas, gepubliceerd op maandag 12 september 2016.

Openness and the sharing of knowledge, investment insights and business advice are all the norm in Silicon Valley. Here in Europe, many have tried to create similar environments with varying success - whether it's promoting clusters, or providing incentives for industry-research cooperation.

But there is one area that we too often neglect and that's how we promote openness and the sharing of knowledge in science, to help turn the solutions and innovations that come out of scientific research into viable businesses.

This is why initiatives like Startup Europe comes to Silicon Valley ( SEC2SV) are so important. They bring together the best European entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, to exchange views with some of the leading visionaries there, so that their ideas can be challenged and refined before becoming new products.

The open and iterative mode of innovation is key especially in developing businesses that merge the physical and digital. The users are empowered to use digital tools to transform their offline experience. One of the SEC2SV 2016 participants, Metail, is doing just that - using full body 3D scanning to enhance online shopping experience. This is another example of how digitalization can bring about customization, boost user engagement and give smaller players the capacity to take on the big incumbents.

Washington D.C. and San Francisco are almost 3000 miles apart; Brussels is also physically very distant from key places in Europe where innovation happens. This is a special challenge for research and innovation policy. We need to build and maintain bridges between innovators and policymakers, to ensure relevance of the policies and understanding of technological trends.

Our entrepreneurs have long preceded us in building these connections - and now, with events such as European Innovation Day in Silicon Valley we hope to keep a strong communication channel with the Valley. We would like it to be an open discussion, with entrepreneurs exploring business opportunities across the Atlantic and giving us feedback on how to create a better environment in Europe, making our policy process also more open and iterative.

My vision for making Europe a better environment for innovation is about three elements. First of all, to improve the quality of EU's innovation support, we are working to develop a European Innovation Council, which could deliver better support for market-creating innovation through simpler, faster and more bottom-up access to our funding schemes. Secondly, we would like to increase supply of risk capital for our best businesses through the launch of a Fund of Funds that could invest in a combination of early stage, later stage and expansion stage venture capital funds, above 500 million euro. Finally, we are committed to making sure our regulatory framework is fit for purpose, and follows a process which considers the innovation impact. I remain committed to these and I am always open for suggestions on how to take these ideas further.

As a part of my agenda I also want to make Europe's research and innovation systems Open to the World. The most successful companies are often defined by their global reach, mostly accomplished at the very outset. This is why I encourage exchanges with global innovation hubs such as Silicon Valley, and I will lend my support also to future editions of SEC2SV.

Within my mandate, my intention is to try and promote as much as possible the mindset of openness. To improve our policies we need to open up our science, empower our entrepreneurs to pursue opportunities of the new economy and engage the community of users - just like the budding entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.


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