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Great synergies between European and danish initiatives

Higher Education Minister Morten Østergaard's speech at European-Danish Roundtable 2 December 2013 in Bruxelles.

We need European cooperation

Two weeks ago I was invited to take part in the launch of three European satellites.

Several European countries are involved in this project from the European Space Agency.

The Technical University of Denmark is responsible for the scientific part of the mission, so it was a big day for Danish space science.

The satellites were going to be launched by a rocket from Siberia. And I joined more than 200 space scientists and space enthusiasts at the Planetarium in Copenhagen to watch a live transmission on a giant cinema screen.

We looked at the screen eagerly awaiting the countdown.But just one minute prior to changing the picture from the control room to the launch pad the live transmission went off.

Then passed some very silent minutes. When the transmission returned the rocket was already up in the atmosphere.

And all we saw was some animated premade pictures of the mission. A bit of an anticlimax, I must say.

You cannot always count on live transmission.But you can count on European cooperation.

The launch of the satellites was despite the failure of the live transmission a success. And today the satellites are sending data to earth as they should.

Space science is complex and costly. Launching three scientific satellites would be too large a project to be lifted by Denmark alone. European cooperation was needed.

European cooperation is also necessary in order to find solutions for the future societal challenges and the increased global competition from in particular Asia and the US.

And this is precisely what Horizon 2020 is all about.

Horizon 2020 represents a paradigm shift

With the agreement on Horizon 2020 Europe has taken a giant step to strengthen research and innovation in Europe.

Horizon 2020 marks a significant change to the European research and innovation landscape.

On the one hand, Horizon 2020 is based on the positive experiences learned from the seventh framework programme. This is especially the case regarding excellence and quality.

On the other hand, Horizon 2020 represents a paradigm shift. Horizon 2020 is much more focused on reaching out towards the surrounding community.

It is about finding new solutions to the societal challenges that the world is confronted with. It is about cooperation between researchers and industry - bridging research, innovation and production.

And it is about creating results and solutions that can help create growth and get Europe out of the economic and financial crisis.

Horizon 2020 and the Danish innovation strategy

In Denmark we have been greatly inspired by the thoughts behind Horizon 2020. 

In December last year the Danish Government launched a new innovation strategy for Denmark. The vision of the Danish innovation strategy is that Denmark should become a land of solutions.

The innovation strategy will utilise Denmark's tradition of interdisciplinary thinking. It will improve our ability to find solutions to societal challenges and at the same time enhance our competitiveness and ability to create jobs.

It is all about doing well by doing good.

In short, our point of departure is that DK is very good at doing research but less good when it comes to turning knowledge into growth and jobs.

Therefore, we have set the following targets for ourselves: We aim to be in the OECD top five when it comes to:

  • Private investments in R&D
  • The number of Danish businesses characterised as innovative
  • The share of the highly educated workforce em-ployed in the private sector.

One of the main initiatives in the new innovation strategy is the establishment of public-private partnerships solving specific societal challenges.

The ambition is to make innovation policy more demand-driven. For instance by involving public procurement, health policy and environmental policy more actively as drivers for innovation.

To help the Danish Parliament decide which public-private partnerships should be established, we have compiled a catalogue called INNO+.

The catalogue has been established in close cooperation with all relevant stakeholders, businesses, research, min-istries and foundation communities.

It contains 21 promising areas for innovation. Areas that have been identified on the basis of roughly 500 proposals that have been tabled during the mapping process. 

The INNO+ catalogue is designed as an inspiration and prioritisation framework for new, intelligent investments in innovation. It is supposed to be a knowledge base that can be used to prioritise future societal partnerships on innovation.

The Parliament has just agreed on financing five out of the 21 focus areas in the INNO+ catalogue.

The chosen areas are transport, health, bio-economy, energy and water efficient industrial production.

We have been inspired by the European public-private partnerships such as the Innovative Medicines Initiative and the new partnership on biobased industries – which I will return to later.

Synergies between European and Danish initiatives

In Denmark we are obviously interested in participating in as many Horizon2020 funded projects as possible.

We have set the ambitious target of winning projects of around 200 million euros pr. year throughout the seven year period.

To achieve this goal will require that we ensure synergies between Danish and European initiatives.

As I just mentioned, the Danish Parliament has reached an agreement to finance five new partnerships that will aim at solving specific societal challenges.

One of the five partnerships aims at creating a more intelligent, sustainable and efficient plant production.

Allow me shortly to elaborate on this.

Increasing plant production per hectare and at the same time reducing the impact on the environment is both a Danish and global challenge.

There is a need to make production more intelligent, sustainable and efficient. The partnership is expected to establish a fully functional model landscape.

In this model, landscape solutions are implemented within a period of three to five years to demonstrate that plant production can be differentiated in relation to the production characteristics of the cultivated areas.

The effort is to increase both plant production and animal production as a result of improved utilisation of livestock manure. And at the same time reduce pesticide load and nutrient emissions to the (aquatic) environment.

The solutions developed are expected to help farmers achieve increased productivity and reduce the impacts from farming on the environment. 

This new partnership in Denmark is very much in line with the initiatives at European level.

For instance the coming KIC Food4Future will also address the issue of sustainable farming. It also links to several topics in the bio-economy challenge in Horizon 2020.

And I am convinced that by creating these new partnerships in Denmark we can better participate in the initiatives at European level and become a more valuable partner in Europe.

Therefore, I also encourage the new Danish partnerships to consider how they can participate in the European research and innovation community.

The New Danish Innovation Foundation

Another initiative from the Danish innovation strategy is a reform of our research and innovation councils. From next year we will merge three existing councils and funds into one: Denmark’s Innovation Foundation.

This will simplify our funding system and therefore make it more user-friendly.

We are here inspired by Horizon 2020. Horizon 2020 merged the EIT, the old competitiveness programme CIP and FP7 into one programme. Likewise, we are merging three councils and funds.

I hope that we both in Denmark and at European level will succeed in making the funding system more user-friendly.

A launch pad for growth and new jobs

Tomorrow I am attending the meeting of the Competitiveness Council.

An important item on the agenda will be the large European partnerships in Horizon 2020 – the Joint Technology Initiatives (JTI). The JTI’s will be a significant part of Europe’s innovative capacity.

The partnership in bio-based economy, which I shortly mentioned before, is an example.

The focus in the Bio-based Industries partnership (BBI) is to reduce dependence on fossil resources in Europe.

BBI will do that by exploiting residues from agriculture and forestry, bio-waste and biodegradable waste into new bio-based products and fuels.

Tomorrow I hope we will come to a general agreement on a grant to BBI on 1 billion euro in 2014-2020. Similarly, the industry has committed to contributing 1 billion euros to research and innovation in BBI. And further 1.8 billion euro for demonstration and flagship plants. No country in Europe alone could have lifted this task.

Some estimates say that sales of bio-based chemicals will increase from 900 billion dollars in 2010 to over 3,000 billion dollars in 2025. The potential is enormous.

Danish Novozymes has played a key role in the establishment of BBI. This is good news for Danish research companies and Danish agriculture, which are well prepared for the biobased economy.

And it's good for Europe. BBI and the other partnerships are important elements in relation to innovation and growth.

And as with launching satellites we need to join forces to find solutions for the grand challenges.

Horizon 2020 is a great launching pad for the ambitions to find these solutions, and it is a strong foundation for creating growth and new jobs in Europe.

I am looking forward to the debate.

Thank you.

last modified Jan 06, 2014