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How to find Europe’s sweet spot for people and planet

By Roland Strauss, founder, Knowledge4Innovation

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity,” is a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein.

It could also quite easily be the slogan of our times. The climate crisis, pandemic, and political instability can sometimes appear like all-consuming, intractable problems that are pushing humanity to the brink. But in the midst of all this chaos lies opportunity – and in Europe we are grasping it with both hands.

We can see this most vividly in the innovative ideas we are producing, a veritable conveyor belt of ingenuity that views the future as something, not to fear, but to be inspired by.

And I am very lucky to have a front row seat to a lot of this activity, through the impressive work being carried out by the Knowledge4Innovation (K4I) Forum in the European Parliament to catalyse some of these big ideas.

One great example of this can be seen in the amazing response we are getting to our open call for actionable ideas that can help give form to the eight focus areas of the European Innovation Areas (EIA) Manifesto, developed by the Forum and its extensive network of policymakers, businesses, startups and academics.

The Manifesto, which European Commissioner for Innovation, Mariya Gabriel, said last year had been fully integrated into the New European Innovation Agenda, includes pillars for capitalising on Europe’s deep tech opportunities, regulating the more questionable aspects of disruptive technologies, financing new technologies, moving from education to entrepreneurship, and promoting women innovators.

It is a vision for the future of Europe that is now coming to life through the limitless ideas filtering through our open access online EIA resource – some of which you can learn more about in the magazine below. 

But you can do more than read about these ideas, you can bring forward your own – and take an active role in leading Europe towards a climate-neutral future. 

I trust the ideas on these pages – and the many more online – will inspire you in the same way they inspire me. Because what they show is a Europe which understands that “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”, as Einstein opined.

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The Knowledge4Innovation Forum in the European Parliament 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 12 successful European Innovation Summit events. It is now spearheading the development of a European Innovation Area capable of delivering the ambitions set out in the New European Innovation Agenda, launched in 2022,


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