Open Innovation, Open Science, Open to the World

Speech by Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation: “On 25 April this year, an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 hit Nepal. To get real-time geographical information, the response teams used an online mapping tool called Open Street Map. Open Street Map has created an entire online map of the world using local knowledge, GPS tracks and donated sources, all provided on a voluntary basis. It is open license for any use.

Open Street Map was created by a 24 year-old computer science student at University College London in 2004, has today 2 million users and has been used for many digital humanitarian and commercial purposes: From the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

This story is one of many that demonstrate that we are moving into a world of open innovation and user innovation. A world where the digital and physical are coming together. A world where new knowledge is created through global collaborations involving thousands of people from across the world and from all walks of life.

Ladies and gentlemen, over the next two days I would like us to chart a new path for European research and innovation policy. A new strategy that is fit for purpose for a world that is open, digital and global. And I would like to set out at the start of this important conference my own ambitions for the coming years….

Open innovation is about involving far more actors in the innovation process, from researchers, to entrepreneurs, to users, to governments and civil society. We need open innovation to capitalise on the results of European research and innovation. This means creating the right ecosystems, increasing investment, and bringing more companies and regions into the knowledge economy. I would like to go further and faster towards open innovation….

I am convinced that excellent science is the foundation of future prosperity, and that openness is the key to excellence. We are often told that it takes many decades for scientific breakthroughs to find commercial application.

Let me tell you a story which shows the opposite. Graphene was first isolated in the laboratory by Profs. Geim and Novoselov at the University of Manchester in 2003 (Nobel Prizes 2010). The development of graphene has since benefitted from major EU support, including ERC grants for Profs. Geim and Novoselov. So I am proud to show you one of the new graphene products that will soon be available on the market.

This light bulb uses the unique thermal dissipation properties of graphene to achieve greater energy efficiencies and a longer lifetime that LED bulbs. It was developed by a spin out company from the University of Manchester, called Graphene Lighting, as is expected to go on sale by the end of the year.

But we must not be complacent. If we look at indicators of the most excellent science, we find that Europe is not top of the rankings in certain areas. Our ultimate goal should always be to promote excellence not only through ERC and Marie Skłodowska-Curie but throughout the entire H2020.

For such an objective we have to move forward on two fronts:

First, we are preparing a call for European Science Cloud Project in order to identify the possibility of creating a cloud for our scientists. We need more open access to research results and the underlying data. Open access publication is already a requirement under Horizon 2020, but we now need to look seriously at open data…

When innovators like LEGO start fusing real bricks with digital magic, when citizens conduct their own R&D through online community projects, when doctors start printing live tissues for patients … Policymakers must follow suit…(More)”