Got Dem Old European Innovation Blues Again

Lets hope the "innovation economy" works better than the "knowledge economy"

The European Union is getting increasingly interested in innovation, and convened a Business Panel on EU Innovation Policy to help it. The report is here, and  a blogged summary by Diogo Vasconcelos is here.

While it’s all good stuff, and the recommendations about broadening the concept of innovation and creating new infrastructure and financing models are sensible, much of this, and other similar reports tend to ignore the elephant in the room, the question of whether governments can do anything at all abut innovation?

Of course chucking plenty of money around will result in some of it sticking to to something useful, but most of it won’t and of course if huge wads of money are available for innovation then there will be plenty of companies rebranded as innovative that were clean tech the week desperately sticking their paws in the honey pot.

A better suggestion from the Panel is to improve infrastructure, making sure that everyone has access to fast broadband is a step, but one has to wonder whether we are already approaching the stage where everyone who wants superfast broadband internet access already gas it, and piping it into households who have no need or interest in technology will only stimulate innovation in the online gambling and pornography industries.

Rather than building new institutions and putting in soon to be obsolete wiring, Europe should look at what it already has and try to make that more efficient. There s no shortage of decent universities, or of scientific talent. If I were to start throwing taxpayers money around chasing an nebulous concept like innovation, Universities would be a good place to start.

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