Today I’m at the Web Summit with some of the most innovative people and entrepreneurs on the planet. It’s no coincidence I’m here, for the second time, to meet and listen to many ground-breaking start-ups, Fortune 500 companies and world-class speakers in my home country.
Europe is a world leader in science, and there is no lack of innovative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. But we lag behind in bringing that innovation to the market. Many new firms don't make it beyond the critical first few years, can't get the finance to scale up into global businesses, or they try their luck outside Europe.
Since the beginning of its mandate, this Commission has been working hard to give Europe's many innovative entrepreneurs every opportunity to become world leading companies. The idea of a European Innovation Council (EIC) is part of that effort and we have just launched a pilot phase on the 27 October, under Horizon 2020 - the EUs research and innovation programme. With a budget of 2.7 billion for the next three years it will fund 1,000 projects that will rock the market! The EIC will be acting as a one stop shop for innovation funding. This could support over 500 innovation projects and 1,000 feasibility studies.
Put Europe at the forefront of market-creating innovation (fundamentally different from existing markets, e.g. through new combination of physical and digital, of products and services, of technologies and business models).
Intervene where private investors are unable to get a loan (e.g. due to higher technology, market, regulatory risks associated with market creating innovation) with the aim of crowding in private investment
Complement existing EU innovation initiatives that focus on established markets / technologies / sectors (e.g. through public private partnerships, development of technology roadmaps/ sectoral strategies, etc.)
Open innovation in the last work programme of Horizon 2020 will also be supported by large scale demonstrations and Innovation hubs. A dedicated focus area on 'Digitising and transforming European industry and services' (budget of €1.7 billion) will foster better integration and coordination. Digitisation of products, services and processes will transform industry and provide solutions.
Today I would like to call all those innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs or start-ups here and in Europe to grasp the opportunity the EIC pilot can offer. Your ideas could unlock future innovation, improve daily life, solve major challenges, and take humanity to new places.
I had the pleasure to award the innovation Capital prize (iCapital) earlier today to Paris in recognition of its inclusive innovation strategy. The city has been transformed into a platform that facilitates citizen’s engagement and creates an autonomous, sustainable, circular, resilient and smart city of tomorrow. That’s a role model for Europe!
Under the EIC Horizon prizes we have €40 million prize-money for 6 prizes just waiting for you to blow current thinking out of the water. These six prize calls will be launched in the next three years - two already in 2017.
So stay tuned, carpe diem and the next time it could be you I’m awarding the prize to!