European Innovation and Entrepreneurship Are Led by Spanish Group of Innovation and Knowledge Communities

InnoEnergy, EIT Digital, EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Health, EIT Food and EIT Raw Materials, all headquartered in Spain, make part of this group

The six Knowledge Innovation Communities (KICs) participated today in “Challenges of the Bioeconomy”. This is an international conference organized by the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain (RAI), on the occasion of the presidency of the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS) it currently holds. This year, Spain took over the presidency of CAETS, an international non-governmental and independent organization that brings together the world’s most prestigious Academies of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The Royal Academy of Spanish Engineering held the CAETS 2017 annual meeting, bringing together leading international experts to present and discuss the latest advances related to bioeconomy and its challenges. They addressed food security, new genetic engineering solutions to ensure food for humanity in the coming decades, eco-friendly use of marine and ocean resources, the transition to renewable energies, and the new innovation models to handle all these challenges and their importance.

The experts talked about several topics including the main problems that humanity will be forced to face in the coming decades, and the reflections and solutions that Engineering and Technology can provide for a better world –the motto of this meeting.

During this two-day conference, cross-cutting lines related to ethics, diversity and equal opportunities in engineering were proposed, as well as emerging models for the promotion and management of innovation in multinational spheres.

KICs –  NEW MODELS TO BOOST INNOVATION

With specific regard to the proposals mentioned above, delegates of five European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) KICs in Spain took part in this meeting in a roundtable to present these communities of knowledge as new models to promote innovation.

The roundtable was moderated by Juan Antonio Zufiria, General Manager of IBM Europe. Participants included José Luis Muñoz, General Manager of EIT Climate-KIC Spain and Coordinator of this EIT Cross-KIC group, Jesús Contreras, Center Manager of EIT Digital Spain, Begoña Pérez Villareal, Director of EIT Food CLC South-Spain, Marco Pugliese, General Manager of EIT Health Spain, and Mikel Lasa, CEO of InnoEnergy.

Mikel Lasa from InnoEnergy stated that despite the similarities among them, the accelerators of the KICs have a different relationship with start-ups when it comes to achieving sustainability. Jesús Contreras, in charge of one of the most transversal KICs, EIT Digital, highlighted the way in which the United States has such a different and fast way of bringing innovation to the market compared to Europe. However, with the EIT’s initiative to bring all parties to work together, this gap will not be so wide. Pugliese from EIT Health also remarked that innovation, progress and research are fundamental for the health sector, but this is precisely why it requires fast implementation.

“All the sectors represented in Spain by the EIT are of great economic importance in our country and the rest of the world, but food is the top manufacturing sector in Europe with 4.4 million workers”, said Begoña Pérez-Villarreal of EIT Food.

What everyone agreed on what motivated them to create this pioneering Spanish EIT Cross-KIC group, is the panorama full of opportunities that arise by creating synergies and sharing experiences. Muñoz, the creator of this group initiative, commented on the KICs objective “in the EIT model, it is extremely important that all the actors involved in these sectors work together, to take advantage of the opportunities presented to us in this new socio-technological framework”. He added, “it is necessary to transform the existing knowledge and talent into new products and services to face the challenges of society. This will allow us to compete internationally while generating sustainable economic opportunities and quality jobs.” This philosophy, which is already being developed by the KICs to integrate the knowledge triangle into the innovation pyramid, has been transferred to this working group in order to create synergies and opportunities.

In this block and prior to this table S. Sarma, Vice President for Open Learning, Department of Mechanical Engineering of the MIT, gave a truly inspiring speech in which he stated that unlike what others think, technological advances and automation can make us more human because it will lead us to enjoy life more, or the intervention of Professor Charles Wessner of Georgetown University, which concluded its presentation with some recommendations. “Fundamentally, what is important is to embrace the need for change, and adopt and adapt politics and successful programs by others.”

THE ORIGIN OF KICs

These innovation platforms were created by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a European Union body that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in different topics of interest to society.

Specifically, in 2010, the Climate Change Centre (Climate-KIC) was launched at European level, with its Spanish centre based in Valencia, the ICT Centre (EIT Digital) based in Madrid, and the Energy Centre (InnoEnergy) with its Spanish headquarters in Barcelona. In 2015, the Health Thematic Platform (EIT Health) and the Raw Materials Platform (EIT Raw Materials) were added to this in addition to the Spanish Healthcare Platform in Barcelona. The food company began its journey just a year ago and will soon establish its headquarters in Madrid.

The EIT is entrusted with the task of contributing to Europe’s competitiveness through sustainable economic growth by promoting and strengthening synergies, cooperation between businesses, educational and research institutions. For this reason, Climate-KIC Spain has taken the lead in presenting and creating this Spanish group, for future collaborations in the Spanish framework and with other European groups. In this sense, the Vice-president of the Governing Board of the EIT, Bruno Revellin-Falcoz, attending this meeting in Madrid, was pleasantly surprised by this initiative since there are no precedents in the EU of other transnational groups belonging to the EIT, which is why he praised the work that the EIT Cross-KIC Spain has initiated and that will be transferred to be replicated in other European locations.