Four items for a stronger interaction between public and private R&D

Four items for a stronger interaction between public and private R&D

After the launch of the Science Programme, for ESOF 2020 the time has come for the Science to Business Programme aimed at fostering interaction between the world of public and private R&D, as well as public institutions and private companies. 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.

Proposals are welcome that focus on the following themes.


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.


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. 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.


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.


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.

The deadline is June 15th, submit a proposal here

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