Open innovation is undoubtedly becoming more and more common. Indeed, a paper by Henry Chesborough from a few years ago suggested that nearly 80% of organizations were already dabbling with open innovation in some form or other.
It is perhaps no surprise therefore that in 2015 Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation outlined the goals of his department as being ‘Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World’.
These thoughts have been firmed up in a recently published paper by the EU on their commitment to an open and transparent approach to innovation throughout Europe, and how this might manifest itself in policy in the coming years.
I’ve written before about the challenges society faces in getting research breakthroughs from our universities into industry faster and more effectively. Europe remains the most productive continent on Earth in terms of its research output (see here for the most innovative universities in Europe), but the EU want to enhance the continents ability to transfer that knowledge into commercial gains.
In terms of supporting open innovation throughout Europe, the EU focus in four key areas:
- The public sector, by providing a regulatory framework that supports and incentivizes open knowledge and cooperation
- The financial sector, by ensuring that innovation-friendly funding is available
- Innovative businesses, by reducing market fragmentation throughout Europe to help companies commercialize their work
- Academia, by supporting the development of co-creation capabilities and the ease with which research finds its way into business
Open science is something I’ve written about a number of times, not least of which with the exploration of “The Peer Reviewers’ Openness Initiative”, which is an attempt to promote open science by organizing the work of academics as reviewers.
The basic concept behind the project is to ensure that no study is made available for peer review unless the data that underpinned the work is made freely available.
Supporting open science is a key part of the EU’s desire for more effective and open innovation as it facilitates the free movement of knowledge throughout the continent. Central to this is a push for open access to research, which the paper argues could save £400 million a year in the UK alone.
The EU are focusing their efforts in five key policy areas:
- Fostering and creating incentives for open science
- Removing barriers to open science
- Mainstreaming and further promoting open access policies
- Developing research infrastructures for open science
- Embedding open science in society as a socio-economic driver
With research an increasingly global and networked affair, these developments are very much welcomed to help develop the kind of ecosystem that supports open science.
Open to the world
The final strand of the EU’s open innovation work is in trying to foster international cooperation in research and innovation, both so that European work finds a market internationally, but also so that international efforts can be deployed within Europe more effectively.
As science and innovation becomes an increasingly global affair, it stands to reason that the EU would wish to promote the things it does internally across the world. Nowhere is this more evident than in China, which has rapidly expanded its research efforts to the extent that it now accounts for over 20% of all R&D expenditure, with a corresponding rise in the number of papers published.
To that end, the elements of the aforementioned strands that are suitable for opening up to the world, such as Horizon 2020, are being done so, whilst the EU push globally for open science to become the norm.
Equally, a cooperative approach is increasingly crucial to areas ranging from climate change to driverless technology, so the extension of the European Research Area into the Global Research Area is to be commended.
“Science and innovation are global endeavours and researchers should be able to work together smoothly across borders, particularly on large-scale common challenges. The strategic approach to EU international cooperation aims to develop common principles and adequate framework conditions for engaging in cooperation,” the paper concludes.
Science and innovation is unequestionably an international and collaborative affair, and in that sense, this paper provides a nice introduction to both what the EU finds important, and how they’re working to enhance innovation in Europe.