Universities, research and the "Innovation Union"

European research-intensive universities phrase their views on the necessities of making Europe more innovation-friendly.

Universities, research and the Innovation Union

The European Commission's newly adopted "Innovation Union" aims to remove bottlenecks which stop innovations reaching the market, e.g. lack of finance, and fragmented research systems. It sets out a strategic approach to innovation focusing Europe's efforts on challenges like climate change, energy and food security, health and an ageing population.

The League of European Research Universities (LERU), an association of 22 research-intensive universities including the University of Helsinki (UH), in turn gave their perspective on what they believe to be necessary to make Europe more innovation-friendly. LERU states that frontier research and inquiring minds - both trademarks of universities - lie at the source of innovation.

- Universities play an important role in innovation activities as a part of the knowledge-based society, states UH Vice-Rector Johanna Björkroth, in charge of research affairs, research study affairs and innovation activities.

Universities are a part of an "innovation ecosystem"

LERU has formulated messages and actions to assist Europe help its universities excel. These include enhancement of e.g. autonomy of universities, EU wide competition for funding, development of major research infrastructures, and attraction and nurturing of best talents.

While LERU welcomes the high-level political attention on research and innovation, it also remarks that universities are merely a part of an "innovation ecosystem". In addition to the means of helping universities innovate, the association indentifies the development of university-business interactions and stimulation of business demand as important catalysts of innovation.

- Not only do we educate and train the future innovators but interact with the society in various ways. Universities are key players in high quality research. Collaboration between the industry and academia provides interesting possibilities for both parties, Björkroth remarks.

LERU Advice Paper - Universities, research and the "Innovation Union" » »

EU Innovation Union » »

Text: Karin Hannukainen and Milla Karvonen
Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
1.11.2010
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