Science, Research and Innovation Performance of the EU (SRIP) Report

Science, Research and Innovation Performance of the EU (SRIP) Report

Last February, European Commission has published a new paper, the Science, Research and Innovation Performance of the EU (SRIP) Report that follows up how Europe could harness dynamic innovation to ensure more robust economies and inclusive, sustainable societies.

Based on indicator-based macroeconomic analysis and deep analytical research on important policy topics, the Report analyses Europe’s performance in science, research and innovation and the driving factors behind that performance. The main outcome of the report is to show that Europe can lead the next wave of breakthrough innovation in fields where digital technology meets the physical world, such as digital manufacturing, genomics, artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT).

Previous edition of the Report, published in 2016, has provided several findings: first, the need to strongly improve the track record in getting research results to market and technologies developed in Europe; second, although Europe generates more scientific output than any other region in the world, Member States fall behind on the very best science. Third, Europe punches below its weight in international science cooperation and science diplomacy.

The 2018 Report actually presents different findings. First of all, although Europe is the leading economy in terms of public investment in R&D and the number of researchers (Europe has 7% of the world population, 20% of global R&D and 1/3 of all high-quality scientific publications), it lags behind the United States, Japan South Korea and even China in private and overall R&D investment levels. This gap has been increased in recent years and, as a partial consequence, there were a lower level of investments among European stakeholders compared to the United States.

Another point is Europe’s limited ability to convert its strong scientific base into technological development. For example, even in most performing European areas, there are a lack of patents in big data or IoT compared to other economies. On top of all that, there is a structural problem in labor and goods market: more stringent conditions for enterprises than in the other advanced economies and the lack of competition limits reach innovation-led entrepreneurship. In this regard, the OECD estimates that around 16% to 19% of all available capital is sunk into unproductive companies in Italy and Spain.

These aspects affect also the ability to foster transformational entrepreneurship from small-sized companies to global giants: in 2017, there were zero number of EU companies in the global top-15 companies by market capitalization. Therefore, despite a good result in more traditional entrepreneurship indicators Europe suffers a gap in the number and relative importance of rapid high-growth companies. This, in turn, influences European capacity to invest in intangible assets.

Moreover, although important national differences persists among Member States, nowadays they are more nuanced, notably in terms of investment levels: for example, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic have significantly increased their R&D investment intensity over the past decade. On the other hand, countries like Romania, Portugal and Spain have exhibited disappointing R&D investment-intensity records.

Finally, it is important not to omit the persistency of national gap also in terms of scientific and technological outputs (countries like the United Kingdom the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium are leaders in this area) that reflects the lower efficiency of the national R&I systems in the laggard countries in transforming R&D investment into scientific and technological output. In fact, top-30 leading regions invest 4,2% in R&D and account 36% of total R&D investment.

With this scenario in mind, the Report suggests a set of policy to promote innovation in Europe: boosting investments in intangible assets and rethinking public support for R&I and ensuring innovation-friendly regulation are central in this project. Therefore, it is important to complete the internal market to promote the development of born-in-Europe “unicorns”, to boost the access to risk capital with the creation of a pan-European Venture Capital and to develop tools to relocate resources from unproductive companies to innovative ones with the aim to open up European science and innovation to the world.

UBIQUITOUS COMMONS – The hyper-connected governance

UBIQUITOUS COMMONS – The hyper-connected governance

The Ubiquitous Commons – the Commons in the age of Ubiquitous Technology – is an international research effort dedicated to understanding the transformation of data, information and knowledge in the age of ubiquitous technologies. It acts in ways which are completely interdisciplinary, moving across scientific and humanistic research, arts and design, institutional and economic action, activism and advocacy, urban studies and rural innovation. The network of experts comprises scholars, lawyers, professors, writers and artists from all over the world, such as David Bollier and Michel Bauwens. LabGov recently  joined the team thanks through the scientific contribution of Christian Iaione, LabGov coordinator . The project goes through education processes, research, development, near future design scenarios and aesthetic actions which are intended to broaden the perception of “possibility” for both people and organizations, in constructive, enabling the formation of novel points of view and possibilities.

The hacker Salvatore Iaconesi and the artist and writer Oriana Persico – who wrote recently an article appeared on Nòva24 on Il Sole 24 Ore – are the coordinators of the project. Salvatore and Oriana created AOS – Art is Open Source, which – in their words – is “an international informal network exploring the mutation of societies through the ubiquitous digital technologies”. This – and other issues – they explained in one of the meetings at LabGov the last year.

Human EcosystemsThe article about Ubiquitous Commons underlines as it could give a great response to manage our data spread in the net.

Horizon 2020 is making Europe change its direction and DG Connect is now dealing with responsible innovation and research. These two areas have become cross-cutting issues and they have been discussing in February during a workshop opened to the debates between stakeholders about strategies for 2016-17.

Among many topics, there will be Big Data, Social networks, Health, Smart cities and communities, Robotics and algorithms. The way to face them is the so-called Concept reengineering.

Social issues advisor Nicole Dewandre explains that the key is Hyper-connectivity: the capability of being connected each other, both offline and online. To do this, it is necessary to re-design different concepts such as Privacy, Freedom, Identity, Attention, Justice and Responsiveness. This is DG Connect’s vision: technology has to achieve new goals in terms of creating of new meaning with social, cultural and anthropological impacts.

A human revolution, not a technological one. The key is finding a way to convert the Data we produce in a relational ecosystem, instead of using them for business logic. According to commons theorist Elinor Ostrom, focusing just on resources is not enough: the quality of relations allows its equal management.

In this scenario, Ubiquitous Commons could be a great response to manage data ownership. By creating legal and technological toolkits, the aim of the project is to create new forms of collaboration among citizens, in which responsibility and rights are re-designed in order to guarantee data access. This innovative kind of plug-in for our internet browsers associates cryptography, peer-to-peer networks and user-generated licences. The mechanism is fully cooperative and collaborative: people, communities, institutions and businesses can create new licences of different nature.

Using Ubiquitous Commons EU citizens could regain the ownership of their data spread in the net. Ubiquitous Commons is currently an empirical research project. An active endorsement by the EU could turn it into a strategic public policy in the future.

More information on: http://www.artisopensource.net/network/artisopensource/2015/03/01/ubiquitous-commons-governance-in-the-age-of-hyper-connectivity/

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L’iperconnettività da governare – UBIQUITOUS COMMONS su Nòva24!

Ubiquitous Commons è uno sforzo di ricerca internazionale dedicato alla comprensione della trasformazione di dati, informazioni e conoscenze nell’era delle tecnologie onnipresenti. Agisce in modi che siano completamente interdisciplinari, si muovono attraverso la ricerca scientifica e umanistica, arte e design, l’azione istituzionale ed economica, l’attivismo e l’avvocatura, studi urbani e innovazione rurale. La rete di esperti è composta da studiosi, avvocati, professori, scrittori e artisti provenienti da tutto il mondo, come David Bollier e Michel Bauwens. LabGov si è recentemente unito al team grazie al contributo scientifico di Christian Iaione, coordinatore di LabGov. Il progetto passa attraverso processi di educazione, ricerca, sviluppo, vicino scenari progettuali e azioni future estetici che sono destinati ad ampliare la percezione di “possibilità” per le persone e le organizzazioni, permettendo la formazione di nuovi punti di vista e possibilità.

L’hacker Salvatore Iaconesi e l’artista e scrittrice Oriana Persico che hanno scritto recentemente un articolo apparso su Nòva24 su Il Sole 24 Ore sono i coordinatori del progetto. Salvatore e Oriana hanno creato AOS Art is Open Source, che  con loro parole è una rete informale internazionale esplorare la mutazione delle società attraverso le tecnologie digitali onnipresenti“. Questo e altre questioni hanno spiegato in uno dei seminari di LabGov lo scorso anno.

L’articolo su Ubiquitous Commons mette in evidenza le possibilità di gestire la diffusione dei nostri dati in rete.

Per saperne di più:  http://www.artisopensource.net/network/artisopensource/2015/03/01/ubiquitous-commons-governance-in-the-age-of-hyper-connectivity/

European Mobility Week: Citizens for a new urban mobility culture

European Mobility Week: Citizens for a new urban mobility culture

Each year from 16 to 22 September, more than 2.000 European cities sign up for European Mobility Week, an annual campaign on sustainable urban mobility financed and supported by the European Commission. Even if political commitment at the local level is an essential requirement to join the initiative, the success of EMW really depends on the enthusiasm of thousands of citizens that get involved in a range of public events, such as bicycle masses, car free days, walk-to-school initiatives and many other public activities promoting sustainable and active travel. This year the week saw a wide range of activities, including concerts, workshops, and art competitions, all celebrating the role sustainable mobility and better usage of land can play in enhancing quality of life. The success of the week and the continued success of the European mobility week campaign is cause for great positivity, pointing to an acceptance of sustainable mobility and a desire on the part of citizens and local governments to enhance green transport. One of the reasons why people are inspired by urban mobility – according to European Commission studies – is that nowadays, the majority of Europeans live in urban areas, and all of us want to move around in an efficient, affordable and comfortable manner. At the same time, we also dream of living in a place with lots of parks and green space, where children can play safely, where the air is clean, where you can walk to do your shopping and where businesses can prosper.

Moreover it is not just a green dream, actually it is the real interpretation of Declaration of Rio (1992). As far as the declaration is concerned, we immediately could notice the Principle I : “Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature”. People are at the centre of sustainable development and, in this regard, Rio promised to strive for a world that is just, equitable and inclusive, and committed to work together to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development and environmental protection and thereby to benefit all, in particular the children of the world, youth and future generations of the world without distinction of any kind such as age, sex, disability, culture, race, ethnicity, origin, migratory status, religion, economic or other status. The global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, with a view to accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions. Each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development and the role of national policies, domestic resources and development strategies cannot be overemphasized. Developing countries need additional resources for sustainable development. There is a need for significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources and the effective use of financing, in order to promote sustainable development (for more information: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/).

The success of the campaign can be mainly attributed to the involvement of civil society. Together with local administrations, they translate the Mobility Week message into a diverse range of positive, creative and fun activities that attract the interest of the media and the general public. Without the active support from NGOs, public institutions, parents, teachers, schoolchildren, students, employers, commuters, shop owners, local residents and cities of all kind, the campaign would surely have a much smaller impact. This is one of the reasons why cities that want to apply for the annual ‘European Mobility Week Award’ have to be able to demonstrate how they involve citizens and stakeholders.

See also : Participants from Italy

The Social Business Initiative: social enterprises into the foreground

The Social Business Initiative: social enterprises into the foreground

Social Business InitiativeWe often hear people talking about them, but still there is not a definition upon which scholars and experts agree. However, when the discussion is about social business and social enterprises, we should take into consideration Muhammed Yunus, the Bangladeshi entrepreneur, pioneer of the microcredit and awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. It goes without saying that his credentials are astonishing and he succeeded in listing a set of characteristics common to all social enterprises.
They are not-for-profit legal persons providing goods and services on a permanent basis, whose social element is intrinsic and they can either serve the community’s interest or the interest of its members. They are independent entities that are democratically managed through participatory models, which involve also the civil society.
We can easily imagine the benefits this kind of enterprises might bring both to the labour and product market and to the European community as a whole, and these benefits were thoroughly analyzed in May 2011, when the European Commission first launched the “Social Business Initiative (SBI)”. The aim was that of recovering the citizens’ confidence in the Single Market and to meet the expectations of the social business community throughout Europe. Not only. There were and still there are great expectations as regards the job-creation potential, the improvement of the work integration and the creation of sustainable models of business in an innovative way. Without the need to read between the lines, the SBI is directly linked to the goals of the 2020 Strategy.
For this reason, a series of workshops and roundtables were organized with a two-fold mission. On the one hand, they had to define the phenomenon of the social business and to present the advantages of fostering its economic presence in the marketplace. On the other hand, they had to list concrete proposals to be submitted to the European Commission. All this represented the preparatory work that led to the adoption of the “Social Business Initiative” in October 2011.
Surprisingly, most of the proposed solutions were embraced by the final text of the initiative and all the aspects that are related to the universe of the social business were tackled. Among them, we should recall the financial aspect, micro-finance, the European regulatory framework, the need for better visibility of social businesses and the education and capacity building topic.
First, in fact, the action plan of the SBI provides for the improvement of the access to funding. One of the most important hindrances for the social entrepreneurs is the mismatch between the supply and the demand sides, which obviously makes them less attractive when we speak about access to credit. Moreover, an insufficient clarity on both the European and the State laws on the matter and the continuous difficulty in setting up new microfinance institutions (MFIs) add big hurdles for the social enterprises willing to enter the marketplace and to offer innovative and useful services. Therefore, the SBI provided for a € 90 million financial instrument able to respond to the needs of the European social business community, together with the creation of a European regulatory framework for social investment and of the Progress Microfinance Facility, which was launched in 2010 and increased the availability of microcredit – loans below € 25 000. The funding will be allocated in the European Union programme for Social Change and Innovation and the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will support the SBI’s projects in the Member States.
Furthermore, as usual when we talk about social innovation, the compelling need that everybody faces is to increase the visibility of the best practices. The SBI, thus, promotes the creation of a European platform and database, where social entrepreneurs and in general, the civil society might exchange replicable models of social entrepreneurship, fostering this way a mutual learning practice and transparency as a value.
Finally, from a legal point of view, the European Commission detected the need to review and reform the then-existing regulatory framework, with regards to the social business at large, in order to improve the capacity of individuals to orientate among the numerous and sometimes overlapping rules. The consolidation and simplification of the European laws has then become the fil rouge of the SBI, which moreover had the aim of enhancing the element of quality in awarding contracts, especially in the case of social and health services.
In sum, the Social Business Initiative represented in 2011 a courageous attempt of tackling a deficiency of the economic system that never promoted social businesses or even threatened their existence, because of the market rules. In this sense, the SBI might be the driving force for a drastic change that might put the social enterprises into the foreground. Doing this at the European level gives an added value to the whole initiative, because “public policies at the European level can help ensure that there is a real Single Market with a level playing field for all economic actors, including social businesses. EU level action represents a cost-effective way to collect in a structured way information on the nature, scale and dynamics of social enterprises and thus provide a basis for an unbiased political dialogue with Member States and stakeholders”.