Creating regional innovation valleys, improving access to finance for startups, and training 1 million deep tech innovators, are among the promises listed in the New European Innovation Agenda launched this week by the European Commission.

A detailed and dynamic action plan to deliver the continent’s twin digital and green transitions, the Agenda confidently announces a new era for innovation in the EU, one its architects hope will accelerate it towards a climate-neutral future.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, said: “The new European Innovation Agenda will ensure innovators, startups and scaleups, and innovative businesses can become global innovation leaders. For more than a year we have consulted with stakeholders, such as innovation ecosystem leaders, startups, unicorns, women founders, women working in the capital venture, universities, and businesses. Together, we will make Europe the global powerhouse for deep-tech innovations and startups.”

The Agenda could also now pave the way for the formation of a European Innovation Area, something the Knowledge4Innovation (K4I) Forum in the European Parliament strongly advocates for. Similar ecosystems, in the form of the European Research Area and European Education Areas, already exist.

At the inaugural European Innovation Area Summit held by K4I in the European Parliament in Brussels last month, Mariya Gabriel, who supports the idea of a European Innovation Area, in her keynote said the ‘Agenda would be a watershed moment for the EU’s future’, as long as it becomes an action plan that is implemented, rather than a strategy document that fails to make it off the debating floor.

And in welcoming the announcement of the Agenda, and what it might mean for the journey towards a European Innovation Area, Dr Roland Strauss, co-founder of the K4I Forum, said: “K4I particularly welcomes actions in the Agenda that are focused on addressing the innovation divide that still exists across the EU. Specific investment and policy commitments targeted at laying the groundwork for a ‘pan-European Innovation Ecosystem’ that can accelerate deep tech innovations, and speed up the ‘growth of women-led companies’, are among the commitments that clearly open the door for the formation of a European Innovation Area that would ensure the Agenda’s ambition for the EU to ‘compete effectively with leading economies across the globe’ stays on track.”

Dr Strauss added: “So we look forward to having continued dialogue with key stakeholders – and the Commission – in the coming months, as we continue our journey towards the realisation of a European Innovation Area that can turn the commitments made on the pages of the Agenda into actions that will transform the EU into a competitive, climate-neutral continent, that can enhance the health and well-being of all its citizens.”

Read more about the New European Innovation Agenda.

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