Innovation and the post-pandemic future

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Ebba  Lund
Chief Executive Officer - International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation
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Ebba  Lund
Chief Executive Officer - International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation
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Innovation district
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I'm delighted to share with you a piece written by some of our partners, including the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, PlusValue and more. In the paper they lay out their vision of innovation districts as key actors in addressing the challenges of the post-pandemic recovery, and the twin green and digital transition that lies ahead.

Read the teaser here, and click the link to download the full paper from our Knowledge Room!

“For without innovation, there is no future” - accelerating the European recovery and sustainable transition through an investment strategy for innovation ecosystems

By Filippo Addarii (PlusValue), Alan Barrell (Cambridge Learning Gateway Ltd), Alessandro Fazio European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Martin Hinoul (KU Leuven R&D), Sheron Shamuilia, European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC)

COVID, the turning point

Back in December 2019, the word ‘innovation’ had become prosaic, part of the spent vocabulary of the every-day. Governments, companies, and the media all joined in the daily, collective cacophony of innovation procurement, open innovation, social innovation, disruptive innovation, service innovation, mission-oriented innovation... But just as quickly as innovation became the new mantra, come 2020, the world was awakened to its essential importance in ensuring humanity’s actual survival. The Covid-19 pandemic – and the accelerated search for vaccines - has underlined the relevance of innovation not just for putting an end to the ongoing pandemic but also for addressing other existential threats we currently face starting with climate change.

At the beginning of last year, coronavirus brought life, as we knew it, to a grinding halt and the whole world to its knees. The economic, social, and public-health related costs have not yet been accurately calculated, but they are certain to run into the hundreds of billions of euros. Lockdowns have impacted disproportionately on the poorest and most vulnerable members of society: those living in crammed accommodation, the elderly and the sick, those in abusive relationships, children from poor households unable to keep up with their schooling, blue-collar workers unable to continue working from the comfort of their living rooms. The virus has exposed the rift valley separating the haves and have-nots in allegedly egalitarian European social democracies.

The arrival of vaccines in December 2020, promised to reduce the intensity of the pandemic or even put an end to it. But the vaccine can only address the health crisis. Recovering from the pandemic, is going to be nothing short of a titanic effort. As Europe slowly emerges from devastating lockdowns, multiple challenges will have to be confronted, simultaneously. Vaccines will have to be manufactured and distributed effectively, large sectors of the economy will need to be taken off life support and revitalised, if possible. Meanwhile, the climate emergency is only likely to gather pace, together with the need to accelerate a green transition that will have to involve potentially unpopular radical reforms. All the above occurs at a time of increasing geopolitical volatility, increasing polarisation and divisions in Western societies, a more tired and inward-looking United States, and the emergence of China as an alternative global power.

Science parks and innovation districts: rethinking strategy and places for innovation

Back in February 2020, when the pandemic struck, we - at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission - were working on a research project on governance and investment models for Science and Technology Parks and Innovation Districts. The crisis has forced us to revisit the purpose of this work, considering the pandemic as an opportunity, to help Europe lay the foundations for a durable recovery and transition towards sustainability.

Innovation is essential as it lies at the centre of the societal transformations that need to occur to address the challenges of the post-pandemic recovery and the twin green and digital transitions. It is, generally, recognised as having a critical impact on firms’ level of productivity and on the competitiveness of European industry.

Innovation has been changing in recent years. The pace of technological evolution continues to accelerate, along with the need for increasing cross-discipline collaboration as technological convergence gathers pace. The need for ever broader collaboration (inter-organisational, inter -regional and international) and cooperation (with customers, suppliers, users and even the general public) in sourcing and developing technologies through open innovation paradigms is redefining the role of intellectual property and proprietary know-how. In these circumstances, it is no longer sufficient to think of innovation in traditional terms as a phenomenon pertaining exclusively to economic agents.

A systemic change needs to occur and requires a comprehensive perspective. In other words, an ecosystem approach to innovation needs to be adopted... 

Click here to download the full paper, and read more about how innovation districts work across national boundaries, and bring together the public and private sectors with entrepreneurial individuals to rise to the challenges facing society as a whole.
The views expressed in the blog post are the authors' and do not necessarily reflect the views of IASP

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