ESOF2020 Science to Business Programme

Science to Business Programme

The Science to Business program is aimed at fostering interaction between the worlds of public and private R&D, as well as public institutions and private enterprise.

This heterogeneous group can include everyone from CEOs, CTOs, entrepreneurs, applied and industrial scientists, academia and public research institutions, IP managers and organizations, corporate R&D communications, HR and careers managers, technology parks, regional/European innovation authorities, science to business students, technology transfer organizations, business angels, venture groups, trade associations, incubators, banking institutions.

Now more than ever, it is of fundamental importance that efficient and mutual knowledge, expertise and technology transfer between these actors is in place, in order to not only ensure innovation, but to make sure that innovation is sustainable.

The creation of collaborative relationships between all stakeholders involved, from academia to private enterprise and policy makers is essential to ensure sustainability across all domains, economic, environmental and social, so that no one is left behind.

Proposals are welcome that focus on 4 main themes:

The 4th Industrial Revolution

In his 2017 book Prof. Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, described the ongoing transformation of our social and economic system as the “4th Industrial Revolution’. This phenomenon is characterized by a range of new technologies that are “fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human”. These disruptive technologies extend from artificial intelligence and machine learning to gene editing, brain enhancement, ubiquitous IT infrastructure and sensors to widespread automation. The disruptions created by this wave of novelty affect all sectors from industry and the job market to education. Consequently, there is an urgent need to re-imagine and transform our knowledge generation and education systems to effectively ensure that we are prepared for the society of tomorrow and to drive change instead of having to suffer through it.

Suggested issues to explore: retraining and personnel obsolescence; challenges and opportunities in automation; artificial intelligence; human augmentation and bio-enhancement; internet of things; remote sensing and control; blockchains and decentralization; opportunities in the space economy.

Value-Driven innovation

Innovation is commonly defined as the process of translating an idea or an invention in a good or a service that creates value. We usually link innovation with economic value because that is the notion that gets more exposure in our society, but while return on investment is an important element, we should broaden the definition of what we intend as value and how we measure it.

An alternative way of looking at innovation is by taking the needs of people as the main point of reference: the value generated by the execution of novel ideas then is more than a technical or economic concept, as it becomes linked to its social impact and transformative effect both in the short and long term.

Value-driven innovation is concerned with and gives priority to the bigger picture and, in bringing new or improved ideas, products, processes and services to market addresses a broad range of aspects including environmental, societal, cultural, educational and health-related ones. This approach calls for a re-thinking of the ways in which to incentivize and support enterprises, especially start-ups, social enterprises and entrepreneurs in taking up projects and initiatives in this challenging area.

Suggested issues to explore: the present and future of value-driven innovation in Europe, the Mediterranean and beyond; the role of value-driven innovation in addressing current and emerging societal challenges; the enabling environment for promoting more valued-driven innovation; case studies of existing and ongoing initiatives; new types of value-driven evaluation and impact assessment processes and metrics; value-driven finance.

Public-Private Partnerships

Under the umbrella terms of Joint Undertakings, Joint Research Initiatives and Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), the European Commission counts almost 100 such large-scale partnerships funded through in its Framework Programme for Research and Innovation in sectors including health, energy, the bio-Economy. PPPs are in a transition phase and their relevance might significantly change in the near future.

A new, growing notion of transfer between industry and the public sector encompasses a combination of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes. It puts ‘people’ at the heart of the process and emphasizes collaboration, experimentation and co-creation instead of a unidirectional push. It emphasizes mindset and the capacity to shape, not just responding to the changes and transformations surrounding us.

Suggested issues to explore: lessons learned, both in terms of best practices and failures; benefits in PPPs for large companies, SMEs, universities, research institutes and governments; current disincentives to enter PPPs and possible solutions; metrics to measure the success of these new forms of interaction and engagement; intellectual property management in PPPs; the impact of PPPs on future careers in research and business; public-private interaction in smart specialization.

Innovation Ecosystems

In today’s world, private enterprise lives in a dynamic environment that extends beyond their core business, market and value chain. Companies rarely possess the required infrastructure and competences to manage this complexity on their own. A strong innovation ecosystem which brings together actors along and beyond the current value chain provides the knowledge base, network, and resources to fill this gap.

Such a system ideally comprises a broad range of participants: public research bodies and academia, investors, providers of infrastructure, regulators, consultants and policy makers. The management of such a diverse set of stakeholders is not trivial, given the need to align interests, find a common definition of success and provide means to make the partnership profitable for all those involved. At the same time, with technological advancement and innovation often requiring large up-front investments and specialized skillsets, such ecosystems could be an important part of the future of business.

Suggested issues to explore: popularity of the ecosystem concept in different industries and countries; partners of ecosystems and their roles; managing the innovation ecosystem; roles of the systems integrator(s); the value of ecosystems to SMEs; geographical location of ecosystems; regional innovation clusters; integration of new partners; role of public policy to support ecosystem; public R&D in the ecosystem game; stability of ecosystems; theoretical and empirical findings; technology vs knowledge transfer; IP management in innovation ecosystems.

Connecting to the Science Themes – A Business Perspective

In addition to the Science to Business track, we encourage all actors from the worlds of finance, innovation and entrepreneurship to actively contribute to the Science themes as well. From case studies to perspectives including, but not limited to, the imminent REDII (the European Renewable Energy Directive) and Horizon Europe framework, the focus of these proposals should be on present and future commercial, economic and social opportunities that a new solution to a specific challenge could create: that is approach the challenge closer to your core business or corporate identity from a practical, business-oriented point of view, rather than a purely academical or policy perspective.