The results of the recent European elections could potentially imply both good and bad news for the forthcoming Horizon Europe research and innovation programme. The question on many researchers and administrators’ lips is: Will it mean more or less money for science and technology? So far, the answer is very much a guess.

For certain people in the research community, the gains made by nationalists and eurosceptics could make it harder to get approval for a big budget rise for Horizon Europe. On the other side, some speculate that the doubling of the Green parties’ participation will counteract the first tendancy and that even more than the €33 billion currently targeted for climate support under the draft Horizon Europe legislation might be allocated. Yet another theory claims that the right wing groups will pull together to block non-EU members from sharing the benefits of the Horizon Europe programme  (e.g. Canada and Japan).

Apart from the electoral arithmetic and the uncertainty of how the new European Parliament will vote for an increased EU R&D budget, one positive factor is that some of the key MEPs working on the new programme were safely returned to their seats, where they are likely to keep working in favour of a robust new R&D budget. They include former Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, now chair of the key committee for Horizon Europe, and the two rapporteurs, Germany’s Christian Ehler and Romania’s Dan Nica. The new intake of MEPs also includes some strong R&D supporters.

Taken together, all these factors point to a prolonged period of uncertainty – exactly what the Commission and Horizon Europe supporters were aiming to avoid as they press ahead to pass the necessary legislation within the next year.

Before the last European Parliament was dissolved in April, negotiators signed off on the general outlines of the EU’s new research programme, Horizon Europe, which runs from 2021 to 2027. However, the budget still needs to be agreed: either €94.1 billion as proposed by the Commission or €120 billion as voted by the last Parliament, or an amount closer to the Horizon 2020 budget of €77 billion.

On a positive note, the new Parliament formation is still in favour of the pro-EU groups overall. And it is likely that the new Parliament, like those before it, will demand a higher budget for research than the member states. In any case, the new Parliament is not due to meet formally until 2 July, and the new Commission will only take office on 1 November. Five months is a long time in politics and that is just a transition period before the new teams settle down to the real business at hand at the Parliament and the Commission. After that, there is likely to be many instances of fierce debate and horse trading before any agreement on a final budget for the new research and innovation programme is forthcoming.



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The European Commission has launched a call for experts to join ‘Mission Boards’, which will advise the Commission for the identification and implementation of missions in the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe.

These missions will be high-ambition, high profile initiatives, to find solutions to some of the major challenges faced by European citizens, with a clear target that captures the imagination of citizens at large.

There will be five ‘Mission Boards’, one for each of the following areas:

  • Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation
  • Cancer
  • Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters
  • Climate-neutral and smart cities
  • Soil health and food

The first task of the ‘Mission Boards’ will be to identify and design one or more specific missions for each of the mission areas, in consultation with stakeholders and citizens.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation commented:

“My dream with our missions is that by rallying efforts and creating a strong push across the entire science and innovation landscape we will solve some of the biggest issues affecting the well-being of our citizens – like taking out cancer. It is an ambitious but realistic dream and with the right people on our ‘Mission Boards’, we will be a lot closer to succeed.”

The ‘Mission Boards’ will comprise high-level independent experts, who will help shape the missions including their respective objectives, indicators and timelines. The Commission is looking for individuals who can bring strategic skills and expertise from across the spectrum of possible fields to support the work of the missions, and with profiles from industry, innovation and business; academia and research; policy makers and practitioners; end-users and key stakeholders.

The call for applications is available online at

The deadline for applications is 11 June 2019. Each of the ‘Mission Boards’ will consist of up to 15 members.

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The Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas announced the four winners of the 2019 EU Prize for Women Innovators on 16 May at the VivaTech conference in Paris. The winners are:

  • Irina Borodina (Lithuania), co-founder and CTO of BioPhero, a biotech company producing pheromones as a safe, affordable and effective alternative to pesticides.
  • Martine Caroff (France), founder and CSO of two biotechnological companies: LPS-BioSciences, which specialises in bacterial endotoxins for vaccines, in vitro diagnostics, cosmetics as well as medical devices and HEPHAISTOS-Pharma which develops immunotherapy for oncology.
  • Shimrit Perkol-Finkel (Israel), co-founder and CEO of ECOncrete Tech, a company that provides environmentally sensitive concrete products on which life can grow thereby enhancing the biological and ecological value of urban, coastal, and marine infrastructures.

The three winners all received €100 000 for their work.

The Rising Innovator 2019 is:

  • Michela Puddu (Italy), co-founder and CEO of Haelixa, a company that uses intelligent DNA-based tracing solutions to ensure ethical and transparent business practices, with special focus on sustainable products such as organic cotton.
    Ms Puddu received €50 000 for her results.

Today’s winners have founded or co-founded a successful company based on their innovative ideas. They were chosen by a jury of independent experts following an open call for submissions in autumn 2018. The jury consisted of independent experts from business, venture capital, entrepreneurship and academia. 154 applications were submitted from across the EU and the countries associated to Horizon 2020, the EU’s funding programme for research and innovation, which provides the prize money for the awards. 13 finalists were shortlisted for the award in April 2019.

The aim of the EU Prize for Women Innovators is to raise public awareness of the need for more innovation and more women entrepreneurs, to recognise the success of women in innovation and create strong role models. Women are underrepresented in terms of creating innovative enterprises – only 31% of entrepreneurs in the EU are women. This represents an untapped potential for Europe, which needs to use all its human resources to their full potential in order to remain competitive and to find solutions to economic and societal challenges.

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The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced the 15 finalists who have been nominated for the European Inventor Award 2019. The Award, now in its 14th year, celebrates the genius and creativity of inventors and inventor teams for their contributions to scientific and technological progress, their role in generating economic growth, and their impact on our daily lives. The winners of this year’s innovation prize will be announced at a ceremony in Vienna on 20 June. In addition, the public is invited to choose the winner of the “Popular Prize” from among the 15 finalists by voting online on the EPO’s website. Voting is open until 16 June 2019.

The Award will be given in the five categories of “Industry”, “Research”, “Non-EPO countries”, “SMEs” and “Lifetime achievement”. The finalists and winners are selected by an independent, international jury. The 2019 finalists come from 12 countries: Austria, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They were selected by the jury from a pool of hundreds of inventors and teams of inventors put forward by members of the public, national patent offices around Europe, and EPO staff.

The inventions cover a range of fields including eco-packaging, rechargeable batteries, genetics, agricultural technology, video coding, cancer diagnosis, electron microscopy, advanced driver assistance systems and plastic recycling.

More information can be found at


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The European Commission received 261 proposals in response to the latest Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) call which closed on 25 May 2019. The results of the call will be known in the autumn.

FTI promotes close-to-the market innovation activities open to all types of participants. The programme offers € 3 million to consortia composed of 3 to 5 partners including mainly industrial participants. The programme is fully bottom-up and there are no set topics, with proposals being classified according to the keywords introduced by applicants. The top keywords introduced were engineering, health and ICT.

The proposals include participants from 28 countries with the largest number of proposals being submitted by Spanish, Italian and Dutch applicants.

Fast Track to innovation (FTI) is part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot and helps close-to-the-market innovations jointly developed by small companies and their industrial partners get on the market faster.


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A new business insight provided by Roger La Salle, innovation thought leader and pioneer of “Matrix Thinking”™

Part 2 of a 2-part article

Knowhow born of experience

Young children are often very good at seeing what to them appears obvious, whereas people who have been doing the same thing the same way for too long often seem prone to overlook the obvious. The young, the uninitiated and those untarnished with tradition are often very good at seeing what may be possible, but what they lack is knowledge and experience in looking at how such opportunities may be addressed and what seems sensible and may be possible. This is where experience and an older head is so valuable in innovation outcomes.

There is a great saying, “knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom comes from experience and experience comes with age. Below are some examples that may illustrate the point of why knowledge born of experience is so important.

  • The inventor who correctly realised that the lead on a hairdresser’s hairdryer was a problem is a case in point. His solution was to have a battery operated hair dryer. What his lack of knowledge failed to identify was that even a car battery would not have had the capacity to run a hair dryer even though the idea may have had merit. As it happened the inventor did toil away at this innovation for far too long and spent quite a lot of money before acquiring the knowledge that at this point in battery development, his idea was simply impractical.
  • A building company with very large innovation teams, in fact four separate teams, which were trying to find ways to identify if scaffolding that had been put in place and certified as safe was subsequently moved by subcontractors – would it perhaps be rendered unsafe. They had been wrestling with the problem without a solution. When the problem was put to an older head the answer was simple, something the inexperienced innovation teams had never even heard of. Tie the scaffolding to the building with “Tamper Tape” that fractures on movement. This was a great solution, but one that the young innovators were simply too inexperienced to have even considered.
  • A fellow who proposed a warning device that alerted parents if a child had unfastened their seat belt. This was nice in theory, but what was overlooked was that many cars already have a “person sitting on the seat but seat belt unfastened” alarm. Perhaps an easier solution could be a seat belt clip latch that requires stronger hands to undo, or maybe a two handed operation action much like a safety interlock on a power tool. We refer to this as “re-question”. It asks you to explore the real issue and decide what is really the ideal or best question to be asked in addressing a problem?

In my world we refer to the type of connections from problem to solution as “connecting the dots”. One of the great skills of clever entrepreneurs and innovators is to see the linkages between seemingly unrelated issues. This is where broadly skilled technologists and open minded thinkers come to the fore.

For example, suppose I run a lumber business, the business of cutting up trees to provide timber for the building industry. What possible connection does that have with mathematics? Perhaps none you may think, or certainly the old fashioned timber manager may have thought. But in fact linear programming, quite an old science these days, when employed in that industry can optimise the way timber is cut to provide massive additional profits. But in the closed non-collaborative model, such knowledge may never be acquired.


  • The technologies developed in putting a man on the moon. How could that possibly connect to the business of pots and pans? The answer – Teflon coating.
  • Clocks and radio paging, is there a connection? Indeed there is. Imagine having a clock equipped with a radio paging receiver to receive time signals and thus keep perfect time and even update for Summer Time changes. Such clocks were developed in Australia long before we had cell phones with perfect time.
  • The packaging business and home insulation? Of course, use bubble wrap as the ideal insulator. It’s light weight, cheap, easy to install and with fire retardant grades also available.
  • Optics and home insulation? Of course, use a reflective coating on one side of the bubble wrap to reflect radiated heat.
  • Physiotherapy and the reduction of carbon emissions?
  • The tooth brush and ceramic crystals?
  • Extruded plastic “core flute” sheeting and aluminium extrusions?

The reader can ponder the latter three, but the connection in each of these cases has spawned real businesses. There is an endless list of these seemingly unrelated disciplines that can be connected with appropriate knowledge and collaboration between disciplines

Indeed this is why the new paradigm of “Opportunity Capture” is now emerging as the preferred approach to the more narrow discipline of traditional innovation. There are endless examples like this which goes to show that perhaps inexperienced people may have great value in identifying possible innovation opportunities but really fail to deliver when it comes to real and viable outcomes.

Connections and Collaborations

There are few cases where one individual or even one organisation can solve all the problems and go from mind to market with an idea without assistance, or perhaps better said, collaboration.

Possibly the best example is in the auto sector. Auto makers are really just assemblers of parts made in most cases by third parties. No auto maker can make all the chassis components, the body work, the paint or the rubber, shock absorbers, alternators, windscreen wipers, the complex electronics, the air conditioners and even something as simple as the seats and the seat belts. Of course tyres, bearings – even engines parts – are provided by collaborating third party suppliers.

Collaboration and finding the best parties to assist you on your innovation journey is essential whether it is in design, engineering, manufacture, business planning and even sales and marketing. Indeed, even the very largest manufactures from food to cosmetics usually outsource their packaging and even advertising campaigns. Collaboration at its best.

Collaboration is definitely the name of the game when it comes to successful innovation outcomes.


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In 2018, the corporate innovators’ community Innov8rs, in partnership with FourSight, embarked on the first global research project to better understand who corporate innovators are from a cognitive perspective. Specifically, the goal of the study was to reveal the thinking profile of corporate innovators. Is it different from the general populace? Are there distinguishing characteristics of people who are drawn to corporate innovation?

The research team used the FourSight Thinking Profile and BridgePoint Effect as research-based assessments to help recognize and leverage cognitive diversity in a problem-solving style. They collected more than 400 thinking profiles of innovators based from Los Angeles to Sydney and compared these with 13 500 assessments from the general population.

It is well-known that innovation is a manifestation of creative problem-solving. From the science of creativity, we know that innovation calls upon four different styles of thinking. There is clarifying the challenge, generating ideas, developing solutions and implementing them. The FourSight Thinking Profile, which measures an individual’s preference for each problem-solving stage, shows that these thinking styles are embodied in people, who are very different and often find themselves at odds when they try to solve problems together.

The results of the study are striking. Through the lens of the FourSight Thinking Profile, corporate innovators show an overwhelming preference for ideation – but also for implementation. It comes as no surprise that it takes a team of different personalities and profiles to create value at scale.

To learn more about what the study discovered go to


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