John Vassallo, Microsoft Vice-President of EU Affairs applauded a European Commission broad strategy designed to bring Europe at the top of the innovation game worldwide.With Innovation Union, the EU Commission is looking to have Europe as a world leader in science and business in just a decade, namely by 2020.
Vassallo opines that the Innovation union plan announced by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, is just the right thing to breathe new life into Europe’s competitive capabilities at a global level, by revamping the manner in which research and development (R&D) is done.
“Placing innovation at the heart of economic policy is a necessity if Europe wants to remain an area of prosperity, growth and global competitiveness”, says Vassallo.
Innovation Union comes with a few focal points which Microsoft believes are critical in ensuring its success, namely investments, intellectual property and new 21st century skills.
Europe needs to develop a strong mechanism designed to attract investments to EU markets, rather than push them away, and this needs to be done through both policy and incentives for companies with the private capital necessary to drive innovation.
“Another incentive is to give everyone in academia and the private sector the confidence to share their intellectual property openly to advance research but be assured that years of time and millions of euros invested will be rewarded through strong intellectual property rights,” Vassallo stressed.
“At the same time, those rights should not become a barrier to young innovators and high-tech SMEs and the Innovation Union plan rightly urges the EU to move towards a harmonized, high-quality and affordable patent.
“We have waited for over 30 years for an affordable European patent system,” he underlined.
By enforcing intellectual property protection, the European Union will make it easier for researchers to bring their ideas to market, accelerating the pace at which they become available.
Of course, it is critical to note that all EU member countries need to collaborate closely in order to not just safeguard innovation but make sure that it gets to the public as fast as possible.
At the same time, EU plans to help students develop the necessary skills that will ultimately turn them into innovators.
“This means education reform to inspire the ‘Einsteins’ of tomorrow and pushing the existing skills of the European population as a whole across the social spectrum several notches higher.
“If we do this right new skills can also pull millions out of poverty and provide the creation of new jobs,” Vassallo added.
Microsoft continues to invest heavily in research and development, aiming to remain at the top of the innovation game.
In the fiscal year 2010 alone the Redmond company committed no less than $8.7 billion in R&D worldwide, with its ICT investment in Europe driving 25% of EU GDP growth and 50% of EU productivity growth, the software giant revealed.
“Europe’s future economic success will depend on tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and innovators.
"We support the EU in its efforts to remove bottlenecks and to create the right policy framework which will sustain Europe’s knowledge base and skills, allowing talent to thrive and bringing the most innovative ideas from the lab to the market place”, Vassallo said.