EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Regarding ‘Structural funds ‘key to innovation plan’‘:

Innovation comes in all guises, but what we lack in the EU is the really big new things in life. We try to add-on a little innovation here and there to current technologies and products (which all other nations of the world do), but we totally neglect the one thing that would make the EU the leading economic power in the world – totally new technologies and the products that would ensue from such developments.

In this respect we tinker in our universities with ideas and possibilities but nothing really ‘big’ comes out of the tens of billions that the EU and European nations invest every decade into these non-performing investments.

Indeed, if anyone in this respect can tell me what has emerged directly in a massive economic way from our university-business link over the last quarter of a century I would be truly grateful to receive this information.

But it has to be said, that based upon present knowledge, nothing of any real economic significance has been produced through the creation of an entirely new global industry worth 100 billion euro plus. Nothing has ever emerged.

The fundamental reason why is that we have totally excluded Europe’s external inventive minds – the EU’s lone and independent inventors and innovators, who according to the history of science and technology through their fundamental thinking (before our university-business interaction took place) have created up to 75% of the modern world as we see it today.

But another worrying factor that I have witnessed other than this great denial in my own country is that the UK has lost 23 global companies and only created four new global companies over the last 25 years. The losses have in the majority of cases been due to foreign takeovers. I have not undertaken a similar analysis for Europe but if the EU has followed the same route, we are literally selling off our economic golden eggs and where in the future this will be without doubt be seen – as history will recall – as being to our total economic demise.

For what we are witnessing is that our eastern counterparts, as they constantly build their economic strengths year-on-year, taking over these vast EU enterprises, will over time create EU unemployment on an unprecedented scale. The writing is on the wall, but the UK and possibly the EU is seemingly blind to these facts.

But again, on the other side of the coin, the USA has lost only a few global companies over the last 25 years but created many new global firms over the same period, which shows that it understands fully (unlike our politicians and bureaucrats in the EU) the acute problem: that long-term economic devastation will flow from such economic and political ineptitude.

Therefore the EU has two dysfunctional areas, which have enormous repercussions for all future EU citizens to address.

1. The lack of an inclusive innovation strategy. The narrow-minded system that we presently have affects the EU nation’s ability to excess economically.

2. The retainment of our global businesses (especially technological concerns). Once gone, we shall never ever get these back. In this respect ‘protectionism’ when it comes to the long-term livelihoods of our 400 million EU citizens has not to be seen as a regressive thing, but simply a prerequisite for the economic preservation of European life, for these business concerns are our most important economic veins of long-term sustainability.

When, I therefore ask, will the EU realise these great deficiencies and include them in policy so that the EU can build on its strengths instead of constantly destroying them?

Dr David Hill

Executive Director

World Innovation Foundation Charity

Bern, Switzerland

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