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EU becoming innovation superpower

More than 1000 innovation actors and policymakers participated in last month’s European Innovation Summit. They discussed and debated pathways for realising a vibrant new European Innovation Area, the transformative power of Artificial Intelligence and the huge potential of women-led VC funds, startups and businesses – some of which feature in this special summit and EUTOP50 edition of Innovators Magazine.

Europe is undoubtedly a knowledge superpower. It has a unique knowledge base developed by almost two million researchers and an annual investment of 200 billion euro that translates into high numbers of patents and scientific publications. Unfortunately though, the great knowledge of Europe’s citizens is not being sufficiently turned into innovative solutions and fast-growing, world-leading companies.

If we want to overcome Europe’s innovation deficit and improve the impact from our wealth of knowledge and ideas, we need to improve our support on the way from knowledge to innovation and market creation. There are many best practice examples such as turning university campuses into innovation ecosystems and connecting students and PHDs with entrepreneurship centres. However, if we want to realize the full potential of Europe’s innovation capacity, we need to do more: we must overcome the innovation divide and equally important exploit the potential of women-led VCs, startups and businesses.

During this year’s 12th European Innovation Summit, Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth set out her vision for a European Innovation Area.

“With a truly pan-European innovation ecosystem we can create the conditions for new business ideas to grow like never before,” Mariya said. “We can also increase our fair share of global tech leaders increasing the number of unicorns that come from Europe, 12% of the global unicorns as of today. Because in their current form our local innovation ecosystems, though vibrant, are too fragmented and disconnected to bridge the gaps that exist. It is time to raise the bar now and go much further in forging a cohesive, interconnected system, where we no longer have a situation where it is easier to contact an investor in Silicon Valley than in Europe.”

We can develop a European Innovation Area that is built by innovators for innovators – Mariya Gabriel

The Commissioner added: “By taking a decentralised co-creation approach we can develop a European Innovation Area which offers equal access to funding and where startups in one country can easily bid for public contracts in another. Where startups and corporates work more closely together and where we have strong European associations bringing together all the actors of the European innovation ecosystems. I want us to achieve this and to nurture a networking culture fit for the 21st century, where all players are able to easily connect at a local and European level. And I also want to see the increased participation of women-led startups.”

In conclusion she invited female founders, and all involved in this year’s European Innovation Summit – as well as those in the wider innovation community, to reach out to her and share actionable ideas for how we continue to take European innovation forward.

Together with the K4I Forum Chair Maria da Graça Carvalho and our political members, the European Partnerships, EIT KICs, universities and other innovation accelerators, we will work with Commissioner Mariya Gabriel to make the European Innovation Area a success-story for the benefit of Europe, our citizens, enterprises and common values.

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The Knowledge4Innovation Forum in the European Parliament celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2024. The place for debate on the future of innovation in Europe, it is an open, independent, non-profit platform with a wide variety of stakeholders including regions, cities and universities, research organisations, trade organisations, think tanks, technology platforms, and companies of all sizes. Its activities mainly take place in the environment of the EU institutions, and the K4I Forum has a strong foothold and presence in the European Parliament. Within the activities of the K4I Forum in the European Parliament, supported by 40 MEPs, it has organised more than 500 debates and 15 successful European Innovation Summit events.

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