Engaging with European Partners
It may not have escaped your attention that there is quite a lot happening on the topic of Europe at the moment – the forthcoming referendum on EU membership has thrown up arguments on both sides about the business benefits, or barriers, and universities in the UK are also making their views known. AURIL, as an apolitical organisation, doesn’t take a position, although whilst there are EU opportunities that our members can access to support their work with business and industry, we’ll support the community, through sharing good practice, feeding back views from the KE community on, and formulating practical guidance.
A prime example is the recently launched guide ‘State Aid in Research, Development and Innovation: A Guide for Universities’, produced by AURIL and PraxisUnico in conjunction with Blake Morgan LLP and Northwood Reid. This guide was prepared for universities active in R&D and innovation, to inform them about State Aid legislation so that any associated risks can be assessed and mitigated, and has been already been downloaded more than a 3000 times.
Whatever happens on June 23rd, how universities work with European partners looks set to change. In January, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, launched a call for ideas for the proposed European Innovation Council, which could have far-reaching influence on the direction of pan-Europe innovation policy. Moedas’ analysis is that whilst the EU has made good progress in investing in the underpinning innovation support and infrastructure, it is “losing the race on scaling up disruptive, market-creating innovation”, highlighted by the small number of so-called ‘unicorn’ companies (start-ups with market value greater than $1 billion) in the EU, compared to the US or China. You can read more here.
Science-Business has put-forward thought-provoking suggestions on the role of the EIC, in a report entitled ‘Breaking through, Scaling up’.
One eye-catching idea is that the EIC should operate like a VC organisation, not a government agency, making swift decisions on where to invest – or where to terminate funding. It will be Intriguing to see how these ideas develop and if they are picked up by the EIC – further signs that, in the search for growth, governments may be prepared to take a much more interventionist and entrepreneurial role than in the past.
Dr Martin Davies
Director of Research and Enterprise
University of Greenwich