Brussels, 4 May 2020 – Research and Innovation actors from the public, private and academic sectors represented by the Knowledge4Innovation Forum in the European Parliament, addressed a letter to the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, emphasizing the important role of research & innovation to solve major problems not only in the recovery plan but in the EU’s long-term strategy. An ambition that needs to be mirrored in the next Multiannual Financial Framework, with a strong budget for Horizon Europe.
“This is the time to start developing a better, more sustainable and highly innovative Europe, one that will be more robust than at the start of this crisis.”
In view of the upcoming recovery plan, we would like to highlight key opportunities where research & innovation can play a major role in key areas:
- Exploiting innovation to aid the recovery itself
Both incremental and breakthrough innovations in nearly all sectors will accelerate the recovery of companies, ensuring employment and making them stronger and ready for the future. We fully realise that immediate disaster recovery is essential (the patient has to stay alive), but it should be seen as a temporary solution. Instead, most resources should be allocated to the uptake of innovative solutions that are needed to ensure long term and sustainable recovery.
- Accelerating the Digital Transformation and the Green Deal Transition for a stronger Europe
Research and Innovation are of paramount importance for these core policies. The current crisis provides the EU with an opportunity to accelerate the agendas. Working and living digital will be ever more important. The past weeks have shown inequalities around Europe in terms of access to broadband, technology, infrastructure and skills. Innovation is needed to get everyone on board: entrepreneurs, employees, students, pupils, and not to forget the older generations. The same applies to the Green Deal implementation. Many sectors, such as transports, have been hard hit and will be quite different after the crisis. This creates an opportunity to reshape them in a sustainable manner, with significantly reduced carbon footprints, developing and deploying highly innovative solutions.
- Innovation to shape the industrial strategy
We cannot overemphasise the importance of having innovation at the heart of the new industrial strategy. A close link with Horizon Europe, through the EIC, the EIT and several clusters and partnerships will deliver the needed impact. This crisis has exposed vulnerabilities to our industrial structure, especially in our value and supply chains. We believe that European high-tech startups that develop unique technologies of strategic relevance should receive the necessary support to make it through the crisis and be protected from foreign acquisitions as this is the case with CureVac for example. Besides all the support that is needed for SMEs to survive, we should not forget the many startups with great inventions for our future in their struggle to survive.