EC head says IT initiative not working

European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso saidTuesday the Lisbon Agenda — Europe’s plan to increase jobs andgrowth based on innovation and information technology — failed totranslate into European-wide policy making.

Barroso said Europe still lags behind the U.S. when it comes toinnovation, despite laying out a detailed plan 10 years ago toincrease competitiveness.

“The original Lisbon strategy had no lack of analysis, no shortageof targets,” Barroso said. “But let’s be frank, it did notwork.”

Barroso made the remarks before about 300 government officials atthe Government Leaders Forum, a two-day conference sponsored byMicrosoft Corp. in Lisbon.

Several European countries are innovative, but on the whole a gapremains as new companies are emerging in Asia that are changing thenature of competition. “European innovation is just not dynamicenough,” Barroso said.

Last week, the Commission published a report on the progress sincethe Lisbon Agenda was relaunched last year, Barroso said. Memberstates have each put forward a national reform program to help meetthe plan’s goals, he said.

Research and technology are two components of innovation, but thosemust result in a transfer of knowledge and the eventual creation ofnew products and services. Europe needs to better target investmentwhile developing a skilled workforce and effective markets to makethe best use of innovation, Barroso said.

The European Union is moving on several initiatives to remedy theproblem, Barroso said. Organizations and programs such as theResearch Framework Program, the European Research Council and theCompetitiveness Research Council are aiding small- to medium-sizedbusinesses (SMBs) with financing and dealing with regulatoryissues.

Two-thirds of the innovating companies in Europe are largecompanies, Barroso said. The potential of SMBs is underexploited,he said, and real partnerships are needed between universities,public research institutes and firms.

He also called for a clearer chain between research and results.”Far too often, innovation does not bear the fruit it should interms of commercial benefits,” Barroso said. “Something gets lostin the chain between the innovator and the consumer.”

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