PPP’s for a long-term vision for competitiveness in Europe

By Jyrki KATAINEN, Vice-President and Commissioner Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, European Commission

Quality research and innovation is very important for advanced economies like Europe’s. The value of Europe’s future relies upon our ability to produce knowledge and how well we succeed in transforming this knowledge into innovation and growth.

Research and innovation are also crucial, if we want to create a sustainable economy, high quality jobs and strengthen the competitiveness of European industry.

Research and innovation are often high risk activities without guarantee for success or profits. Many private investors are therefore reluctant to invest even though the economic or social return could potentially be large. This unwillingness to invest dampens Europe’s innovation potential.

Moreover, while on fundamental research Europe enjoys a leadership position in the world, on market-creating innovation the challenge is still ahead of us.

The European Commission is committed to take a leading role to support research and innovation. Because of the nature of research, the significant economies of scale and the importance of cross-border cooperation, this is one of those areas in which the European Union can have a real added value.

One of the most useful instruments to overcome market failures is organised partnerships between the public and the private sector. It can encourage more breakthroughs and ensure that great ideas are carried from the lab to the industry.

We must make the most of the knowledge and science we produce to enhance growth, productivity and competitiveness in the long-run.

EU relies on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) when operating under the Horizon 2020. This is so far the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme, with nearly EUR 80 billion of funding made available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) and in addition to this comes the private investment that this money attracts.

When teaming up with the industrial sector, the implementation of research and innovation activities further improves. Mobilising joint investments supports the competitiveness of sectors that can develop closer synergies with national and regional programmes, and encourage greater private investment.

A concrete example of an EU PPP is the Horizon 2020 Bio-Based Industries Joint Under- taking (BBI JU). A EUR 3.7 billion investment in bio-based innovation with EUR 975 million of EU funds and EUR 2.7 billion of private invest- ments.

Here the partnerships ensure industrial research and help narrowing the gap from research to the marketplace. For Europe this means a stronger bio-based industrial sector, which can make it possible to reduce our dependency on fossil-based products, fight climate change and lead to greener and more environmentally friendly growth. Overall, PPPs can also boost sustainable development in Europe.

The world is changing faster than ever. New technologies are introduced all the time and Europe must be ready not just to respond and adjust but also to invent and lead in the adoption of new technologies.

Our digital economy must have trustworthy ICT products, services and software in oder to develop. It is vital to secure Europe from cyber-threats and make us more resilient to cyber-attacks. That is why EU is engaged in another important PPP to support innovative solutions in the field of cyber-security, which is expected to trigger €1.8 billion of investment by 2020.

Looking at the future, we now need to strengthen further the results achieved under the current research programme. The evaluation we carried out highlighted its strengths as well as the areas for development.

Horizon 2020 has proven to be a successful programme to stimulate research and innovation benefitting Europe’s competitiveness.

The next programme will learn from the experience and will aim to deliver even greater benefits for the competitiveness and growth of Europe.