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Key initiatives of the European Innovation Union

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TheInnovation Union contains more than 30 action points, including ground-breaking proposals such as the European Innovation Partnerships and in particular the pilot partnership on active and healthy ageing, which aims to add an average of two years of healthy life for all in Europe.

The "Innovation Union", a flagship initiative of Europe 2020, aims to stimulate and accelerate innovation in Europe, while removing barriers that prevent innovative ideas from reaching the market.

This initiative foresees the creation of public-private "innovation partnerships" to accelerate the market entry of innovative products and services. It should lead to more and better co-ordinated investment in research and development, and update regulations and standards to adapt them to the needs of the economy.

Innovation Union foresees the strategic use of public procurement budgets to finance innovation, a comprehensive approach Innovation Scoreboard based on 25 indicators and a European knowledge market for patents and licences.

It includes measures to strengthen existing successful initiatives such as the Risk Sharing Finance Facility and allow the Investment Bank's contribution of more than EUR 1 billion.

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Innovation Union, an investment in our future

We have to do much better if we want to remain competitive in the global market and improve the quality of life in Europe.

We are facing an "innovation emergency". Europe has gone from having 0.8% less GDP than the United States and 1.5% less R&D than Japan. Thousands of our best researchers and innovators have moved abroad where conditions are more favourable. Although the EU market is the largest in the world, it remains fragmented and not sufficiently conducive to innovation. And other countries such as China and South Korea are changing.

The Innovation Union is a crucial investment in our future. For example, achieving our target of investing 3% of EU GDP in R&D by 2020 could create 3.7 million jobs and increase annual GDP by €795,000,000 by 2025.

The key key initiatives : 

Strengthening Europe's knowledge base

Research and education to foster innovation. Europe would need at least one million more researchers in the next decade to reach the target of investing 3% of EU GDP in R&D by 2020.

The Innovation Union proposes measures to complete the European Research Area by 2014. This means greater coherence between European and national research policies, cutting red tape and removing obstacles to the mobility of researchers.

Promoting excellence in education and skills development: by the end of 2012, Member States should have strategies in place to train enough researchers to meet their national R&D objectives and to promote attractive employment conditions in public research institutions. Career considerations should be fully taken into account in these strategies. More details on Member States' strategies for the training of researchers and employment conditions on I3S.

In 2011, the Commission, on the basis of the work currently under preparation, will have to support an independent multi-dimensional body for an international ranking system for the performance of reference universities. This will allow the best performing European universities to be identified. In 2011, further measures will be proposed in a Communication on the reform and modernisation of higher education.

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The Commission will also support collaborations between businesses and universities through the creation of "knowledge": alliances between education and business to develop new programmes on innovation skills. They will help universities to modernise towards interdisciplinarity, entrepreneurship and strong business partnerships. More details.

In 2011, the Commission will propose an integrated framework for the development and promotion of e-skills for innovation and competitiveness, based on partnerships with stakeholders. This will be based on supply and demand, pan-European guidelines for new programmes, quality labels for industry based on training and awareness-raising activities. More details.

Bringing good ideas to market

The Innovation Union proposes to create a genuine single European innovation market that should attract innovative companies. To achieve this objective, several measures are proposed in the areas of patent protection, standardisation, public procurement and smart regulation. The Innovation Union also aims to stimulate private sector investment and proposes to increase European venture capital investment.

Maximizing Regional Benefits

To avoid an "innovation divide" between the most innovative regions and the others, the Commission will help Member States to make the best use of the remaining part of the Structural Funds programmed for the period 2007-2013 for research and innovation projects.

The Innovation Union aims to involve everyone in innovation. This is particularly true when it comes to ensuring that employees themselves can influence the way companies and public authorities innovate, particularly in the area of social innovation. In 2011, the Commission has launched a major research programme on public sector social innovation and created a European Public Sector Innovation Scoreboard for the sector.

Joining forces to break through

The European Innovation Partnerships are a new way of bringing together public and private actors at European, national and regional level to tackle the major challenges we face such as climate change, energy and food security, health and ageing populations. These challenges also represent opportunities for new businesses and the partnerships will aim to give the EU an edge to the first entrant in these markets.

The First Partnership on Active Ageing and Good Health aims to add an average of two years of healthy life for all in Europe. More details.

Promoting the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) as a model of innovation governance in Europe

In mid-2012, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) should establish a strategic innovation agenda to develop its activities as a showcase for innovation in Europe. This should be in line with its long-term development within the Innovation Union, including the creation of new KICs, close links with the private sector and strengthening the role of entrepreneurship. It should also build on the EIT Foundation for an internationally recognised label of excellence. More details.

International collaboration

Europe needs to work better with its international partners. This means that Europe must continue to open up access to its R&D programmes, while ensuring comparable conditions abroad. It also means that the European Union and its Member States must treat scientific cooperation with third countries as a matter of common interest and develop common approaches to protect its interests.

In 2012, an agreement should also be concluded with international partners on the development of research infrastructures which, given their cost/complexity, cannot be developed on a global scale.

Reforming research and innovation systems

Member States are invited to carry out self-assessments and to identify key challenges and key reforms in the framework of their National Reform Programmes. The Commission will support this process through exchanges of good practice, peer reviews and the development of the evidence base. It will also apply them to its own research and innovation initiatives. Progress will be monitored in the framework of integrated economic coordination ("European Semester"). More details.

Measuring progress

The Commission proposes to launch work on the development of a new indicator measuring the share of innovative fast-growing enterprises in the economy. This will require the full cooperation of Member States and international partners. Subject to these commitments, the Commission will make the necessary proposals to take urgent steps to develop this indicator over the next two years, in collaboration with the OECD where appropriate, so that it can become, over time, a new indicator, enabling the EU 2020 strategy to compare the EU's performance with its main trading partners.

Starting today, the Commission will monitor progress on overall innovation performance through the Innovation Union Research and Scoreboard. More details.

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