Norway opened its chairmanship with a large conference for its second year at the head of EUREKA, the European network for innovation facilitating transnational collaboration in R&D projects. Norway’s first chairmanship was back in 1993-1994. The event took place on Wednesday September 4th in Trondheim, Norway, home to some of the most innovative companies, universities and research institutes in the country.
In the innovation-inspiring Norwegian city of Trondheim, an audience of more than 200 researchers, entrepreneurs and public funding specialists listened speeches given by high-level speakers.
Mr. Arvid Hallen, director general of the Research Council of Norway, the organisation hosting the Norwegian chapter of the EUREKA network outlined a vision for the future of the Norwegian economy, reminding the audience that Norway will not always be able to rely on petroleum for its growth and that investments in new technologies will be critical for the post-petroleum period, 'we cannot be the fat cat of Europe, we have to project ourselves into the future', Mr. Hallen said.
Mr. Pedro Nunes, director of the EUREKA Secretariat, the central support body for the EUREKA network, based in Brussels, followed with a demonstration of EUREKA's efficiency in answering some of Europe's structural difficulties in the innovation economy and explained its key role in the completion of a European Research Area, comparable to a single European market in the field of research. Commenting on the recent takeover of Nokia by Microsoft he said: 'competition today is so globalized and fierce that we have to fight to remain at the top'. 'Europe, he continued, 'is the largest producer of knowledge in the world if you look at scientific publication figures, but our weakness is in the transformation of that knowledge in wealth, which is the problem addressed by EUREKA.'
Norwegian State Secretary Jeanette Iren Moen, reminded the audience of the fact that Norway already headed EUREKA over 20 years ago, 'since then the world's center of gravity has shifted southward and eastward,' she said, praising the recent EUREKA initiative to extend the scope of its activities outside Europe, with an upcoming association agreement with South Africa. 'Norway would be very pleased to see the talks with South Africa be concluded with an agreement during the Norwegian chairmanship,' she added. Presenting the Norwegian white paper on industrial policy for the next 15 years, she concluded that adaptability will be the most important of Norway's future strategy for its innovation industry.
Ms. Clara de la Torre, Director of Research and Innovation Directorate, DG Research & Innovation, presented most recent indicators on the state of the European economy and explained the strong correlation between innovation and growth. Giving the outline of the future Horizon 2020 programme, she emphasized the objective of turning Horizon 2020 into a more accessible programme for SMEs than previous framework programmes had been. She expressed the European Commission full support to the Norwegian Chair and EUREKA Secretariat in the upcoming launch of the Eurostars programme under Horizon 2020, which will be part of Horizon 2020's pillar industrial leadership.