22 March 2023

On 22 March, EIF organised a debate hosted by Ivan Stefanec MEP on how to lead the 4th wave of innovation, with a focus on the New European Innovation Agenda (NEIA). The MEP was joined by the following guest speakers:

Magda De Carli, Deputy Director/Head of Unit 'European Semester & Country Intelligence', DG RTD, European Commission
Philippe Huberdeau, Secretary General, Scale-Up Europe at Presidency of the French Republic
Andrea Gumina, Senior Policy Advisor on FDI - Italian Ministry of Companies and Made in Italy; Co-Founder and Chairman of the Transatlantic Investment Committee
Fabrizio Porrino, EMEA Head of Government Relations, ServiceNow

Leading the 4th wave of innovation: a New European Innovation Agenda

MEP Ivan Stefanec, in his opening remarks, emphasised the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the European economy and how improving their environment is key to promoting innovation. He identified three major priorities for SMEs. First, in terms of access to capital, funds are available at the EU level to support innovation, startups, and SMEs. Second, infrastructure, which is one of the key preconditions for the Digital Decade. Third, the education system needs to be transformed for future jobs and for motivating talents not to leave. The New European Innovation Agenda (NEIA) aims to position Europe at the forefront of the new wave of deep tech innovation and startups. Mr. Stefanec affirmed that the NEIA also tries to address the already-mentioned priorities for SMEs: improving access to finance, attracting and retaining talent, increasing support for women innovators, innovating with startup employee stock options, and improving policy frameworks. According to him, the achievement of the right steps is crucial for the creation of new jobs in the EU and for leading the digital and environmental transition.

The European Commission representative, Magda De Carli, provided an overview of the European context in terms of innovation. She acknowledged that Europe is a leader in science and responsible for one-fifth of top-quality publications in the world. Europe also has a strong industrial base, and 80% of deep tech ventures engage with leading industries for building physical products. Additionally, talent is an important aspect in the EU where over a million researchers and 17.5 million individuals in tertiary education contribute to an increasingly vibrant ecosystem. Ms. De Carli highlighted the five flagship initiatives under the NEIA: funding of deep tech and startups; enabling deep tech innovation through experimentation, space, and public procurement; accelerating and strengthening innovation in the European innovation ecosystem; attracting, fostering, and retaining talent in Europe; improving the policy framework. Under these flagships, there are 25 actions that have already started to be implemented.

Philippe Huberdeau explained that Scale-Up Europe, an initiative launched by President Macron, has a European vision and purpose, with the ambition to accelerate the growth of the tech ecosystem in Europe by gathering all the actors of the tech ecosystem across Europe. However, he stressed that the issue is that the EU is good at creating startups but less good at turning them into scale-ups and growing them. In the first year of Scale-Up, a roadmap was drawn up with 21 recommendations across four areas, namely finance, deep tech, talent, and corporates. In the second year, the two important outcomes were: the mandate given to the European Innovation Council to fund essential research and deep tech startups, and the European Tech Champions Initiative (ETCI), which will inject money into venture capital funds across Europe to help startups turn into scale-ups. In the current year, concrete steps will be taken in the four areas.

Andrea Gumina presented his role at the Transatlantic Investment Committee (TIC), which aims to promote investment in start-ups and scale-ups in five strategic areas: digital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, and biotech. Furthermore, he has contributed to the Italian government’s FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) strategy. He discussed the changes in global innovation and economic policies over the past six years, starting with the Italian G7 in 2017. He emphasised that, right after the establishment of the Trade and Tech Council (TTC) in 2021, the TIC has been funded. The TIC has three streams: an executive master's degree to create executive investors and managers; an advocacy action that looks at how to put together up to 1000 key decision-makers in the investment area; a fund to promote investment in start-ups in strategic areas. He stressed the need for collaboration between Europe and the United States to achieve common strategic autonomy and industrial competitiveness.

Fabrizio Porrino outlined his work at ServiceNow in supporting digital transformation for governments and public sector organisations. He pointed out that the EU has traditionally looked to Silicon Valley as a place to learn from, while now it is more advanced than the US in fast-tracking innovation reform. Presenting a video about the work of ServiceNow in a rural state like South Dakota, he discussed how the US is not only a place for innovation. Innovation needs to be everywhere and accessible to everyone. Digitalisation is the key to enabling the next wave of innovation which should be geared towards a societal goal, as citizens are the adopters of innovation. Furthermore, it is fundamental to connect researchers with entrepreneurs, SMEs, investors, accelerators, and incubators. Mr. Porrino acknowledged that access to capital and public sector procurement are the biggest issues for companies to scale up, highlighting that cultural mediation is pivotal to facilitate understanding and communication among different parties.



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