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A New European Innovation Agenda

Mariya Gabriel is the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

For us deep tech innovation does not equal to high tech innovation. We are referring to innovations with a physical and/or biological component, in addition to digital, and that are usually based on protected Intellectual property derived from scientific results.

The New European Innovation Agenda proposed by the European Commission in July this year is based on a key premise: deep tech innovation is essential to drive Europe’s competitiveness and to ensure the health and well-being of its citizens.

This is because ambitious innovation policies with a strong transformative component are a must if we want to face the challenges of today. Our economies and societies must transition towards sustainability to achieve climate targets and increase energy efficiency. Furthermore we need to reconsider strategically our value chains and production systems.

However, innovation policy documents - as usual - are not enough to achieve the necessary transformations. In order to seek the required impact, new innovation policies must meaningfully involve the local and regional stakeholders including citizens, large and small enterprises, startups, investors, knowledge institutions and local authorities. Innovation policy must therefore strive for transformative innovation in enabling and accelerating the necessary transformations.

The Innovation Agenda proposes bold actions to foster deep tech innovation, a new wave of innovation. It is important to emphasise that, in the context of the Innovation Agenda, deep tech innovation refers to innovations that address our deepest societal challenges.

For us deep tech innovation does not equal to high tech innovation. We are referring to innovations with a physical and/or biological component, in addition to digital, and that are usually based on protected Intellectual property derived from scientific results.

Next year will be crucial to further develop and implement the Partnerships for Regional Innovation, a stepping stone into the new 100 regional deep tech innovation valleys announced in the New European Innovation Agenda.

In order to seek the required impact, new innovation policies must meaningfully involve the local and regional stakeholders including citizens, large and small enterprises, startups, investors, knowledge institutions and local authorities

The Partnerships will also focus on broad stakeholder engagement and mobilisation, introducing improved ways of working across governmental departments. They will also reinforce the capacity of regional and local innovation ecosystems, to support the networking of stakeholders and strengthen European sustainable value chains and deep tech sectors.

Next year will be crucial to further develop and implement the Partnerships for Regional Innovation, a stepping stone into the new 100 regional deep tech innovation valleys announced in the New European Innovation Agenda.

I invite all territories and stakeholders to join forces with the Commission and the Committee of the Regions to make a success of this initiative and construct renewed partnerships across all implicated stakeholders to align efforts and co-create transformation pathways towards sustainability.

Deep tech innovations need the support from our European industrial based due to the hardware component of this type of innovation. Here, like in the previous digital innovation wave, the role of startups supported by venture capital are crucial.

The startups also benefit from strongly connected innovation ecosystems with relevant actors for deep tech innovation such as universities, large and small industry, and regulators, due to the fact that these hardware-related sectors are usually regulated.

Promoting deep tech innovation requires a clear directionality at political level, place based strategies, well-designed tools, entrepreneurial actors with the right skills, institutional capacity and a culture open for policy experimentation and risk-taking.

Our most recent policy experimentation initiative, the pilot action on Partnerships for Regional Innovation (PRI), launched in spring this year by the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions, gathers countries, regions and cities across the EU for place-based transformative innovation.

The Partnerships are conceived as complementary to smart specialisation strategies to make way for a more impactful innovation policy. As the Partnerships will be adapted to the needs and challenges of each territory, they can accelerate transformative outcomes by introducing local missions to coordinate actions under a coherent direction.

This article appears in the Regional innovation Issue of TerritoriALL

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This article appears in the Regional innovation Issue of TerritoriALL