There are going to be two different outlets for the papers presented at the conference. On the one hand, a book volume with Wiley, and on the other hand, a journal issue at the Journal of Innovation Economics and Management, at De Boeck Edition.
Research and Innovation Policies in Europe: Evolution, Scope and Perspectives
Innovation is a key driver of economic growth and is essential to creating better jobs, building a greener society, and improving our quality of life, but also to maintaining EU competitiveness in the global market. However, data show that while European companies still account for one-quarter of total industrial R&D in the world, Europe is lagging behind the US and China in terms of innovation and technology (Grassano et al., 2020), and Europe’s ability to innovate is somewhat misallocated among and within Member States and sectors. In addition, Europe is
increasingly challenged by the next generation of frontier technologies. Despite some notable exceptions, most dominant high-tech players today are either American or Chinese.
Innovation policies have changed in the past few decades. They were traditionally based on notions of market failure or system failure and associated with the willingness to reinforce growth and competitiveness (Frenken, 2017). This is due to a strong intellectual link made between innovation (especially technological innovations) and economic progress (Godin, 2019). They have recently evolved to embrace more complex and systemic challenges like environmental challenges and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Including these is an important objective of the European Commission's (EC) proposal for Horizon Europe: the EU framework programme for Research and Innovation (R&I) 2021–2027 (Kastrinos, Weber, 2020). Transformative change and mission-oriented policies are thus at the center of the agenda at international and European levels (Fagerberg, 2018, Schot, Steinmueller, 2018, Robinson, Mazzucato, 2019, Mazzucato, 2019).
Raising innovation capacity in Europe
Obviously, Europe needs to regain its competitive edge and has a leading role to play in stimulating the societal transformations needed to solve Grand Challenges. Raising the capacity for innovation and changing the locked-in undesirable trajectories of existing systems depends on developing many levers. First, firms must have incentives to develop new practices, and be able to finance them. Small and medium enterprises often stick to common practices and adapt to competition by means other than innovation, as they lack a culture of innovation. Second, even if firms are willing to invest in innovation, their access to investment funding might be hindered by financial barriers: venture capital is successful in raising capital for start-ups in some sectors, but often fails to acknowledge the potential of existing businesses. Large companies, developing open innovation strategies to reinforce their knowledge capital, continue to dominate markets and play the double game of investing in entrepreneurship and creativity and appropriating the returns in order to increase their market power (Laperche, 2017). In this matter, the strategies for promoting intellectual property become decisive (Baudry, Dumont, 2018). Third, socio-technical system transformation requires not only technological change but also a change in skills, infrastructures, regulations, and ways of living. Whatever the sector or field, systemic innovation, involving technological, but also organizational and social change, is thus needed (Uzunidis, 2020) This implies an involvement of multiple actors in the framing of policies in the aim of democratizing innovation, including not only firms and political bodies but also scientists, non-governmental associations, and more broadly civil society (Joly, 2017).
The Innovation Union
In order to spur innovation and stimulate societal transformations, R&I policies have a renewed role to play. In this respect, the EC has developed the concept of an ‘Innovation Union’, which aims to make the EU a world-class science and innovation performer. This flagship initiative aims to improve conditions and access to finance for R&I in the EU to turn innovative ideas into products and services that create growth and jobs, and to create a genuine single European market for innovation. At the same time, the EC has developed five missions to solve grand challenges like cancer; adapting to climate change; protecting oceans and inland waters; living in climate-neutral and smart cities; and ensuring soil health and food. Each mission will implement a portfolio of actions mobilizing a wide range of resources, disciplines, R&I activities and actors. aiming to reach a time-bound measurable target and generating expected realistic impacts.
Supporting policies for innovation
However, new economic activities often do not take off and changing existing systems is a complex task. Sometimes they are blocked by legal restrictions aimed at protecting some sectors from competition, or by the lack of regulations that could support change (a ban on pesticides). Moreover, policies related to education and innovation often privilege applied over fundamental research (Archibugi, Filippetti, 2018). Transfers from universities and research centers to industry has been raised as an indicator of scientific success, as well as the objective of research and policy, as shown by the continuous interest in the concepts of the Entrepreneurial University (Etzkowitz et al. 2000, Audretsch, Belitski, 2021) and triple (or more) helix concepts (Carayannis, Campbell, 2017). However, these transfers are limited at best, on the one hand, and on the other hand they can orientate science toward short term results that could be contradictory to systemic socio-technical change (Uzunidis, 2018). Raising R&D budgets is of little avail if there is no combined decision on structural and sectoral policies to sustain investment in innovation. Regional policies have focused on smart specialization (Foray, 2014), as well as the creation of technology clusters in order to reinforce knowledge sharing in the perspective of innovation (Leick, Gretzinger, 2020). Smart specialization policy is now studied in the context of socio-technical transitions and sustainable regional development (Veldhuizen, 2020). But the operationalization of smart specialization policy has been rather limited due to the lack of a clear political framework (Balland et al., 2019). Moreover, these policies have not always been successful and conducive to the reduction of inequalities among regions. While some local initiatives have been able to create specialized clusters, other policies seem to have created white elephants. The gap between the core and periphery in the EU with regard to science, technology, and innovation is even widening and call for the creation of new development paths that go beyond “science as usual” in peripherical European countries (Švarc, Dabić, 2021).
Goals of the RNI 2022 Forum on Innovation
This conference aims to discuss the evolution, scope, and perspectives of research innovation policies in Europe. To do so, the RNI 2022 Forum on Innovation will bring together leading experts on innovation studies at national and regional level, from academia, industry, and policy makers, to discuss the factors that limit innovation, its transfer to society, and more generally the transformation of current systems and the ways Europe can scale up in terms of innovation and play a role in steering it toward societal goals.
Topics of the RNI 2022 Forum on Innovation
The main topics of the conference include, but are not limited to:
- Incentives for R&D, invention, and innovation
- Technology standards and standards-setting organization
- R&D tax credits
- Intellectual property rights
- European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs)
- The emergence of innovation clusters and their diffusion throughout Europe
- Comparison of policies and achievements between the global leaders (Europe, USA, China.)
- Opportunities to achieve sustainable development through science and technology
- Transformative innovation policies vs growth-based innovation policies: in the search for complementarities
- Main missions of European innovation policy to solve grand challenges like cancer; adapting to climate change; protecting oceans and inland waters; living in climate-neutral and smart cities; and ensuring soil health and food
- Sector policy and technology development in Europe: health, agriculture and bioeconomy, environment, infrastructure and communication, energy, defense….
- Smart specialization and innovation in European regions.
- The policy-making process in Europe and the role of stakeholders
- Demand side innovation policies
Some special sessions will be organized in partnership with EAEPE (list of sessions).
This conference is organized jointly by :
- the Research Network on Innovation (RNI)
- the Délégation Générale du Québec in Brussels
- the College of Europe (CoE)
- and in partnership with EAEPE, Research Area [X] and [D] (https://eaepe.org)
- Deadline for paper and session registration: February 6, 2022
- Notification of acceptance: March 7, 2022
- Registration: March 28, 2022
Local organizer: Beatrice Dumont (Université Sorbonne Paris Nord).
Organization committee: Sophie Boutillier (Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale), Peter Claeys (College of Europe), Blandine Laperche (Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale), André Patrocinio (Délégation générale du Québec in Brussels), Son Thi Kim Le (Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale), Vitantonio Mariella (CNR Italy), Mireille Matt (Inrae, France).