EurActiv - Letters to the Editor


In a mere twenty years’ time to 2031, the UK and the EU will be reaching the limits of despair when trying to capture any major future foothold in the global economic stakes. This will not be due to its people, but their governments with regard to their current and medium-term policies.

These policies are inherently based in the old thinking that by joining universities and business together we can achieve economic dynamism in the future. It forgets that there are three crucial elements to achieve this – the ‘ideas’ phase, the R&D phase and the corporate commercialisation phase.

I say forget, as the primer of this most important energiser for economic wealth creation, the ideas phase, is not taken seriously. It is the most important and fundamental missing factor. For without world-changing ideas first, the process cannot even begin.

The British and EU systems do not comprehend what the history of S&T tells us: up to 75% of all the inventions that have made the modern world what it is today did not emanate from within the confines of our universities or advanced corporate research centres of excellence, but in the minds of ‘independent’ innovators, far removed from the final two innovation elements that constitute the ‘innovation chain’.

Indeed, the ‘independent’ ideas element is more or less non-existent in UK and EU economic policy. This is unlike what is emerging in the East, where they are now starting to see that the ideas people are the most important commodity that a nation has.

In twenty years’ time, therefore, with this lack of foresight and new thinking in Britain and the EU, we shall in reality just be hangers-on in the global economic stakes. Therefore for its own good, the United Kingdom and the EU have to start thinking ‘out of the box’ and give total prominence and resources to the initial ideas people. For if they do not we shall see in our own lifetime the inevitable collapse of living standards, the like of which we have never seen before and our offspring will live to be totally subservient to the economic might and power of the East.

That is why it is so vitally important that we create now the innovative infrastructure throughout Europe for our ideas people to flourish and thereby equip our nations with the dynamic products and services that we shall dearly need.

When will the UK and the EU realise this is the big question, for it has the most overriding repercussions and consequential economic effects that have ever been seen before for the 500 million+ people of the European Union?

We really have to start thinking ‘out-of-the-box’ like our Eastern counterparts before it is far too late to stem the economic decline that is now upon us all.

Dr David Hill

Executive Director

World Innovation Foundation Charity

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