At the TII Annual General Meeting in Sophia Antipolis (F) on 11 June 2019, Bruno Woeran (right in our photo) handed over as TII president to Martin McGurk, after two consecutive terms in the post. Under his presidency, Bruno oversaw the re-branding of the association as the TII Commercialization Hub and the launch of the MyCommercialization Expert online community – available at https://www.tii.org/en  He also initiated more regular communication and collaboration with sister associations working in the innovation arena, such as ASTP, EARMA, EBN and ISPIM. The most tangible collaboration was the organisation of a joint summer school with ASTP-Proton in August 2018 in Venice.

Martin, who is business development director at RTC North in the north-east of England, will be looking over the next two years at ways to develop and fund new activities for the association.

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This year’s European innovation scoreboard was released on 17 June 2019. The European innovation scoreboard provides a comparative analysis of innovation performance in EU countries, other European countries, and regional neighbours. It assesses relative strengths and weaknesses of national innovation systems and helps countries identify areas they need to address.

The 2019 edition of the scoreboard highlights that the EU’s innovation performance continues to improve. Compared to last year, innovation performance improved in 24 of the 28 EU member states and the growth rate of lower-performing countries compared to higher-performing countries has accelerated. Since 2011, the EU’s average innovation performance has increased by 8.8 percentage points.

The figures published this year reveal that the EU’s performance has surpassed the United States for the first time and has a considerable lead over Brazil, India, Russia, and South Africa. However, China is catching up at three times the EU’s innovation performance growth rate and Canada, Australia and Japan maintain a performance lead over the EU.

Within the EU, innovation performance has increased in 25 countries since 2011. Sweden is the 2019 EU innovation leader, followed by Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. Estonia,Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands and the United Kingdoms are the fastest growing innovators.

The biennial regional innovation scoreboard (a regional extension of the European innovation scoreboard, assessing the innovation performance of European regions based on a limited number of indicators) was also published on 17 June.

This year the Commission has introduced the European innovation scoreboard interactive tool which allows for customised comparisons of performance scores.  The visitor can visualise country profiles, compare relative strengths, weaknesses and trends, and test correlations between indicators. The new tool is available at https://interactivetool.eu/EIS/index.html while the main scoreboard report, a summary and annexes can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/growth/industry/innovation/facts-figures/scoreboards_en

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As of 6 June 2019 the SME Instrument Phase 2 will be known as the EIC Accelerator. This comes following the announcement in March by the Juncker Commission of a €2 billion Enhanced EIC pilot, to turn Europe’s scientific discoveries into businesses that can scale up faster. In future, innovative SMEs will be able to apply for up to €17.5 million in combined grant and equity financing to scale-up quickly and effectively to bring their ground-breaking concepts to market. The next cut-off date for applications is 9 October 2019.

Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, supported this new developement by saying:

When we designed the European Innovation Council our top priority was to focus on the needs of our European innovators. This kind of entrepreneur often needs more funding and support than grant schemes alone can offer; the EIC Accelerator pilot will test a grant and equity blended financing model, paving the way for a fully-fledged European Innovation Council in the next EU research and innovation framework programme, Horizon Europe.

The Accelerator pilot will support high-potential enterprises (mainly SMEs), with financing as well as coaching and mentoring, to develop and bring to market new products, services and business models that can drive economic growth, filling the market gap by supporting innovation considered ‘high-risk’ for private investors.

Grants will finance activities from TRL 6-8. Activities above TRL 8 will be financed only through blended finance. Companies will be able to ask for €17.5 million in total (grant + equity).

The EIC Accelerator is complemented by the EIC Pathfinder Pilot, which supports advanced technologies/early-stage innovation. The EIC Pathfinder Pilot comprises FET-Open and FET-Proactive and offers grants of up to €4 million to promote collaborative, inter-disciplinary research and innovation on science-inspired and radically new future technologies. These grants are for consortia of at least 3 entities from 3 different Members States and associated countries.

The scheme features ‘targeted calls’ based on topics or challenges identified in the Work Programme along with open bottom-up calls for proposals. These topics include:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Implantable autonomous devices and materials
  • Breakthrough zero-emissions energy generation for full decarbonisation

The EIC Pathfinder pilot has a total budget of around €660 million for 2019-2020. Together both instruments of the EIC cover the entire innovation chain.


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The European Commission received 2025 proposals for the European Innovation Council pilot’s SME Instrument Phase 2 before the last cut-off date of the SME Instrument in this form on 5 June 2019. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from 40 countries submitted proposals. Companies that pass the initial selection stage will be invited to Brussels, to pitch in front of a jury of investors and business experts during the week of 8-12 July 2019.

In this phase of the SME Instrument, each winning project will receive up to €2.5 million to finance innovation activities like demonstration, testing, piloting and scaling up. The companies will also benefit from 12 days of free business coaching and acceleration services.

The biggest number of proposals for this batch were submitted by Spanish applicants (267), followed closely by Italian (215) and Israeli applicants (174). Most companies are active in the field of health, ICT and engineering and technology.

From 6 June 2019 the SME Instrument becomes the EIC Accelerator, offering blended finance in the form of an optional investment in equity in addition to a grant, to single for-profit SMEs. Grants will finance activities from TRL 6-8. Activities above TRL 8 will be financed only through blended finance. Companies will be able to ask for €17.5 million in total (grant + equity).

For more details, the work programme and the guidelines for applicants please visit the Horizon 2020 Funding and Tenders Portal.

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Mark Fergusion, the Irish government’s chief scientific adviser, was named as chair of the European Commission’s panel of 22 research and innovation experts who will help steer the roll-out of the European Innovation Council (EIC).

The vice chairman is Hermann Hauser, the Cambridge-based entrepreneur and venture capitalist. The remaining 20 members of the panel come predominantly from business, including VC funds and start-ups, but also from academia.

The EIC, which is currently in a pilot phase under the Horizon 2020 programme, aims to step up the successful commercialisation of EU-funded research results. The fully-fledged EIC will support start-ups and technology transfer through a mix of grants, loans and equity. The Commission has made it known that it wishes to allocate €10 billion, out of the proposed €94.1 billion budget for Horizon Europe, to the EIC.

In its non-executive advisory role, the EIC board will be called upon to give advice on the EIC’s overall strategy, its work programmes, assessment criteria for beneficiaries and the hiring of programme managers.

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For the purpose of the launch and implementation of the enhanced European Innovation Council pilot, the European Commission wishes to recruit three to five EIC Programme Managers. They will be expected to make a major contribution to achieving breakthroughs in strategic emerging technologies, in particular through overseeing and supporting the management of a portfolio of research and/or innovation projects funded by the EIC. This is a new role, and is expected to be rolled out more extensively in the full implementation of the EIC as of 2021.

The European Commission launched its call for applications for aspiring programme managers on 27 June. The full text can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/research/eic/index.cfm?pg=call0619

The programme managers will be temporary positions; candidates must be EU citizens with at least 10 years of experience in relevant fields, such as artificial intelligence, implantable autonomous devices and material, clean energy, and nanometrology. The deadline for applications is 31 July 2019.


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

An innovation in itself
In a blog some months ago I highlighted research conducted by the Harvard Business School that revealed that the adoption of ISO9000 may come with a “sting in the tail”.

The research showed that in the years immediately following ISO implementation business outcomes improved in terms of reduced defect, less waste and rework, improved quality and more repeatability in terms of all processes. However, with ISO implemented it was found that no longer was there so much free thinking nor an ability to step outside the boundary dictates of ISO.

In short, the study found that within five to seven years of adopting ISO, innovation output plummeted, companies had become slaves to the ISO regime.

Join the Dots!
In another blog even earlier I suggested the outrigger model for start-ups within large companies with IBM as the case study.

IBM, the supplier of major computer systems in days when computer centers occupied entire floors, came to the realization that the personal computer may be a new horizon. However in order to implement the PC development and avoid the risk to the “mother ship” and their brand if the PC was just a “flash in the pan”, they adopted a novel approach. This avoided their brand risk as well as the lengthy nightmare that an in-house development would have meant.

Rather than doing the development “in-house”, a development that would have taken a decade or more with all the internal bureaucracy and inertia of IBM, instead they simply put a small team together, put them in a separate building, gave them an objective and left them tot it. The outcome was the IBM PC, developed and delivered in just 12 months.

We might call this independent entity an “outrigger” business.

Have our cake and eat it too?
Perhaps the solution to both embracing ISO and at the same time having your research or “blue sky” department free from the constraints of ISO is to have the research entity as an outrigger. In other words, an independent organisation that does your innovation separately and only passes on the complete solution to the host “mothership” when the work is done and dusted.

A good Idea? – perhaps
Innovation of the business model. Yes, innovation can be applied to all aspects of business.




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