To identify how it could make the best of its innovative resources, the EU Commission appointed a panel of experts to make recommendations. The panel's report concluded that market fragmentation was a major obstacle to innovation, and that corporate networks should work more tightly together on transferring and sharing knowledge.
Five areas were identified as having particular room for improvement: eHealth, pharmaceuticals, transportation and logistics, environment and digital content.
The role of technology appears prominently in the report. In most cases, an enhanced use of IT resources would create significant cost savings. In health, for instance, the digitalisation of all diagnostic tests and images would save a considerable amount of money compared to manual methods. Similarly, the digital content sector has a huge potential for innovation by bringing together creativity in IT, business and culture.
Better regulation could also act as a trigger for innovative ways of doing business, be it in the pharmaceutical sector to drive costs down, in environment to promote energy efficiency and green alternatives, or in transportation to integrate all means of transport at a European level.
Experts aren't exactly optimistic about the EU's prospects: there is no denying that it faces stiff competition from India and China. But the 'Old Continent' should make more of what it has, particularly by increased co-operation and better use of IT.
Source: A wake-up call for European innovation
Esko Aho, Jozef Cornu, Luke Georghiou, Antoni Subirà
IESE Insight, February 2006
Review by Emilie Filou