LERU recommendations for the New European Innovation Agenda

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The League of European Reserach Universities (LERU), a network in which the UB takes part, has published a new statement to provide with support and recommendations the New European Innovation Agenda, an action plan led by the European Commission in order to turn the continent into a global reference in innovation.

Specifically, the network of research-intensive universities has sent proposals to the European Commission in five key areas, which are currently a bottleneck that holds back the European aspirations in innovation. These areas the continent has to improve are the ’deep tech’ start-ups’ access to finance, support to scientific excellence as the source of invention, the power of universities in activating and supporting innovation ecosystems, the provision of entrepreneurial education to students and the creation of pathways for academic research talent to enterprise.

M. Carme Verdaguer, director-general of the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation of the UB and one of the authors of the statement, talks on how to reduce some of these bottlenecks, such as finance: "We need more funding in the different stages of an entrepreneurial project, mainly in the early and development stages. This will prevent projects created in the European Union from moving to other areas". "At LERU —she continues— we ask for specific support for the deep tech start-ups (companies arising from a scientific discovery or disruptive technological innovation), because we believe they can provide a differential value".

Verdaguer also notes that "the European Innovation Agenda cannot forget to support science excellence, because it is where the most disruptive innovations come from, although the path to the application of their discoveries is not linear". She adds that "We also need a clear policy on industrial and intellectual property rights".

As for universities, the director-general of the FBG affirms that "they are an important agent in innovation ecosystems: they are dynamising and agglutinating agents, but they also provide the research results that are the starting point for developing innovations".

Verdaguer also mentions an obstacle that needs to be removed: "Markets in Europe are still very fragmented, unlike in the United States. This is a disadvantage for small start-ups".

Talent management and promotion is also another issue. "The LERU universities are very aware that we must provide training in entrepreneurship to our students so that they are able to turn ideas into successful projects", says the director-general of FBG.

Finally, Verdaguer stresses that "it is necessary to facilitate the professional mobility of researchers between universities and companies". "Currently, there are many obstacles that make it difficult to develop flexible professional careers".

LERU member universities urge governments, legislators and funding agencies to support the vision of research impact as a dynamic, open and networked process in a culture of sustained engagement and coproduction of knowledge.