Next week the first-ever European Innovation Area Summit will take place in the European Parliament in Brussels – and online.
My recent guest on Inside Ideas, Dr Roland Strauss – one of the most influential figures within the European innovation landscape, and co-founder of the Knowledge4Innovation (K4I) Forum in the European Parliament, organisers of the inaugural Summit, spoke to me about the new relationship the continent is forging with innovation.
For well over a decade, in his role as the founder of the nonprofit, Knowledge4Innovation, he has been the driving force behind the European Innovation Summit held annually in the European Parliament, which brings European commissioners and MEPs face-to-face with the needs of the company’s, organisations, ideas and startups driving innovation across the continent.
“Innovation and technological leadership is the only way for the EU to maintain a strong, sustainable and competitive economy.”Dr Roland Strauss, founder, K4I Forum in the European Parliament
Now, as Europe begins laying out its plans for delivering on its vision to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, it is the role of innovation that will again take centre stage.
And as the key innovation platform at the heart of the European institutions, with the support of dozens of MEPs, it is the K4I Forum in the European Parliament – sitting at the crossroads between politics, businesses, startups, academia and wider society, which is perfectly placed to help define the leading role it will play in achieving this net-zero future.
“We need not only to develop vaccines against Covid, we need vaccines also for the planet,” Dr Strauss says. “Our planet is sick and here is where innovation comes in, here is where innovation must have an impact, and must develop the solutions to cure the planet and avoid the breaking of our planetary boundaries.”
Right now, Dr Strauss and K4I is attempting to do this by leading the charge for the development of a European Innovation Area – a single ecosystem for innovation across the continent that can harness the collective power of progress to achieve a just transition towards a sustainable Europe that truly works for all.
“The European Innovation Area Initiative is about strengthening innovation ecosystems at the local, regional and national levels and better connecting them across Europe,” Dr Strauss explains. “We are aiming at a kind of single market for innovation because there are still quite some fragmentations in different important areas.”
The journey towards achieving this ecosystem is well underway, with the inaugural European Innovation Area Summit – led by K4I – taking place in the European Parliament and online from 27-29 June. The Summit programme will lean heavily on the EIA manifesto and its 8 Focus Areas.
The event is expected to be the launchpad for a new and dynamic era of innovation in Europe – one dedicated to delivering the world’s first climate-neutral continent. So I am delighted to welcome Dr Strauss onto the show to learn more about the role innovation will play in creating this Europe.