InnoMetrics is a strategic analysis highlighting key figures and numbers shared on WAI social networks. Today we look a the European Union as a business and economy area, the latest technological and social developments, the impact of politics and regulation. If you want to join the conversation, you can join and share your ideas with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Slideshare.
The Grexit situation and the release of unemployment rates over the EU zone are placing Europe in the difficult position of gauging the priorities of firefighting and building a longer term environment to develop sustainable growth. In the midst of this challenge, analysts and experts share their views, whether inside or outside the European scope, of how Europe uses digital as a growth lever, how they manage to develop as a team and what are the outlook of a cooperative innovation policy for the EU.
A digitally driven business growth ?
Europe is embracing the digital economy, for a very good reason. As Alexandre Barth explains for Maddyness, “digital already represents 5,5% of French GDP and contributes to 25% of the annual growth”. There is a growth future in digital. The only step missing is to make it more concrete than virtual. There are a few reforms that need to take place first. The good news is: these reforms are underway, as reminds Jean Pisani-Ferry in his report “Rebalancing the governance of the euro area“. According to the author: “Never had Europe undertaken as many reforms in its history. Yet very few European leaders estimate that results of these reforms will be sufficient.” He mentions the “OHIO effect” (Own House In Order) as a remaining constraint to build a shared and sustainable growth across the euro zone.
Nevertheless, Europe takes a chance and has started to launch a number of start-ups now competing on a global level as the most creative and innovative. Etienne Portais reports for Maddyness on the Top 100 start-ups in France. As he writes, “it is about presenting a shortlist of startups with the potential to be a strategic partner for members of the Electronic Business Group (open innovation approach, business synergies, product and services co-development), but also allow these entrepreneurs to pitch their story to the next EBG general assembly”. The economic environment is not helping, not entirely. As Joschka Fischer reminds in his article for Project Syndicate, “The ineffectiveness of existing institutions and structures in the face of today’s threats is now jeopardizing the EU’s legitimacy, because Europe’s citizens are calling for solutions that the EU obviously is unable and partly unwilling to provide. One consequence is erosion of support for the EU among its member states’ electorates”.
But the figures shared by Eurostat bring a little light of hope, “Compared with March 2015, the number of persons unemployed decreased by 126 000 in the EU28 and by 130 000 in the euro area. Compared with April 2014, unemployment fell by 1.545 million in the EU28 and by 849 000 in the euro area”. Claude Fauquet from Les Echos comments: “over a year, unemployment has decreased in 22 out of 28 countries, and increased in 6 others, including France.” Katarina Pistor, on her article for the World Economic Forum, wonders: “The real question is what kind of European Union Greece’s creditors want: a “small” one, comprising only the countries that are prepared to live by their exacting standards, or a “big” one that heeds the Treaty of Rome’s call for “ever-closer union.”
Tackling social challenges as a team
European startups emerge as a growth lever. As Etienne Portais reveals in his article for Maddyness, “the first business accelerator supported by FrenchTech is leveling up by welcoming two new joiners in their startup portfolio of 13 companies”. In Spain, Madrid is preparing to welcome the fourth International Conference in Open Data in 2016. As D. Víctor Calvo-Sotelo Ibáñez-Martín explains, “this is the opportunity to highlight the value and potential benefits of Open Data for the economy as well as for citizens, and more specifically, the connection with the most relevant initiatives such as “Open/Smart Cities”. Valentin Weber reminds the critical role of the EU regarding cyber security. As he explains for Trop Libre, ” according to Patryk Paulak and Catherine Sheahan from EU Institute of research for security, Europe optimizes its chance to improve global security standards if it cooperates with the US, Singapore and South Korea, as these countries share the same security vision of the world“. An interesting article to read after recent revelations on US recordings of French Presidents mobile lines.
Behind those facts and aspirations, another question. In his article for HBR, Larry Downes tries to explain “how Europe can create its own Silicon Valley”. In his view, there are legal and regulation barriers to market which need to be adapted to enable more ideas to actually come to market. In the UK, Sophie Curtis reports the words of a Government Spokesperson about innovation plans. As mentioned in her article for The Telegraph, the UK is looking at many different plans to better develop innovation: “Last year we announced £67 million of funding to support British businesses and scientists to bridge the ‘valley of death’ that lies between research and the marketplace. This includes £50million to seven new areas of technology where Britain is well positioned to take a leading role in the future like 3D printing of human organs and better drugs. We are also investing in a network of catapult centres. These innovation centres, part funded by the Government, help businesses and researchers bring new products to commercialisation more quickly.” In the meantime, Europe takes action and starts considering the creation of a unitary patent system. As Joff Wild explains on I AM Media, “My sense is that people in Europe have not even begun to think through everything that the unitary patent system could deliver. There are going to be immediate gains for some, but over the medium to long term there will be opportunities for the continent to lead the way in exploring and then setting standards for issues of major importance in a global knowledge economy that is underpinned by R&D, invention and innovation.”
In Belgium, after banning it for a year, Brussels finally authorized the use of Uber services in the city. In the midst of a European wide legal turmoil of Uber and the sharing economy impact on legacy economy, Arne Van Balen comments for Board of Innovation that “Where Uber is a hip and trendy service, the established firms have experienced and safe drivers. Combine both of these and we will experience the rebirth of the taxi industry – one in which more people will use taxi services. The key to success is the participation of existing taxi drivers in the Uber service.” Ideas to better drive innovation on a community level are developing, including when it comes to improving the tools needed for more innovation. As Florin Zubascu and Eanna Kelly remark in Science Business, “The EU’s Horizon 2020 science programme, now a little over 15 months old, is ticking along well enough, academics and business leaders agree. Which is not to say there are no shortcomings, or as Sergio Bertolucci, CERN’s director for research and computing put it, “It’s good but could be better.”” In terms of education, European wide programmes also adapt and place youth unemployment at the heart of their strategy. As Manja Klemencic and Paul Ashwin explain in Inside Higher Ed, “Higher education is seen as one key pillar in Europe’s vision to fight unemployment among young people, preventing them from becoming a “lost generation” and source of social upheaval.”
Building cooperative innovation policies
Carlos Moedas, EU Commissionner for Research, Science and Innovation, provides guidelines moving forward in his speech for “Interdisciplinary cooperation” for the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. In his own words:
“It’s the key ingredient to success in the 21st century, just as it was the key ingredient nearly 200 years ago.
- Without scientists working closely with policymakers,
- Without openness and interdisciplinary methods,
- Without women,
- Without connecting science with the arts,
- Without embracing the value of the industrious citizen, tinkering at her latest project.
- Without open innovation, open science, openness to the world,
We risk missing out the huge potential this connected, modern age has to offer!”
As Janelle Nanos reports for Harvard Business School Alumni, Moedas also says ““The United States is a country where you are able to transform knowledge into products, and I think Europe needs more of that (…). The big objective of my tenure is to help Europe to be able to have an ecosystem where you can actually create the conditions for fundamental science and research to be transformed into real products and businesses that create jobs and growth.”
Meanwhile, Catherine Stupp reminds on Euractiv.com that “Albrecht (German MEP – Greens) said of the remaining issues that need to be parsed out, “There are clearly differences, notably as regards the rights afforded to consumers and duties to be fulfilled by businesses. However, if we can engage in constructive and pragmatic negotiations, it should be possible to reach a compromise acceptable to both sides in that timeframe (before the end of 2015).” As a proof that Europe can work better as a community, Charlie Osborne explains for ZDNet how “The joint operation between Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), Eurojust, and Italian, Spanish, Polish and UK law enforcement bodies took place on Wednesday (June 10th). The operation resulted in the arrest of 49 individuals suspected of being part of the cybercrime ring, which is believed to have stolen six million euros in a “very short time,” according to Europol.”
Europe indeed faces growing challenges in a rapidly changing economic system and need the adaptative drive to tackle them as a team. In below video, Nikos Chrysoloras and Eleni Chrepa from Bloomberg Business summarize the Grexit crisis and implications on EU as a community:
As another challenge, Les Echos reports on the recent Belgian privacy commission to sue Facebook as it estimates the Internet company is violating internet users rights by “illegally tracking them”. As Leonard Foeger writes for Reuters, “The European Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation into Amazon’s e-book business on Thursday, opening yet another front in mounting EU scrutiny of America’s global tech giants.”