European scientists meet at the Knesset 311.
(photo credit: Marc Sellem Israel/The Jerusalem Post)
A group of European parliamentarians gathered at the Knesset on Tuesday for the
17th biennial Eureka inter-parliamentary conference adopted a resolution
committing themselves to expanding market-oriented R&D projects and to
fostering a “European culture of innovation.”
This was the first time
Israel hosted the conference, which brought together lawmakers from around half
of Eureka’s members states. Eureka, the pan-European network for market-
oriented industrial research & development and innovation, is composed of 40
members – all 27 European Union states, the European Commission itself, and 12
non-EU countries in the wider region, including Israel.
At the end of the
conference, which was chaired by Knesset Science and Technology Committee head
Meir Sheetrit, the participants adopted their resolution unanimously and set
five main goals:
• To expand the network’s services to support market-oriented
RD&I projects through all phases of the innovation chain.
• To become
an investment promotion center that interacts with financial stakeholders from
the public and private sector.
• To tackle grand challenges for Europe by
leveraging the multi-disciplinary and flexible approach of the Eureka
• To enrich European society by fostering a European culture of
innovation and entrepreneurship.
• To broaden the participation of
The resolution recognized Israel’s role as the
organization’s chair for the year ending June 30, noting, “Under the Israeli
Eureka chairmanship, Eureka has furthermore sought to create new opportunities
for innovative companies and support them throughout the innovation chain,” and
referring to specific Israeli initiatives such as the launch of Eureka
Clean-Tech action “to encourage the generation of Eureka projects focused on
R&D cooperation in the cleantech sector.”
Eureka Secretariat chief
Luuk Borg, from the Netherlands, praised Israel’s chairmanship, saying, “One of
the main things that the Israeli chairmanship brought to Eureka this year is
tremendous dynamism. They refer to themselves as the start-up nation, they are
very ambitious and they’re not afraid of anything, and that is a very important
thing for Eureka.”
Innovation was a central theme of the conference, and
one that was addressed by Israeli-American 2005 Nobel Prize laureate in
Economics Prof. Robert Yisrael Aumann, in his keynote address. Aumann, who turns
81 next week, spoke about three main elements of innovation – incentives,
education and basic research, the last of which he said was disregarded too much
by policy- planners.
“I don’t expect private entrepreneurs in any way to
fund basic research, but the government should, because it is
Because when you are financing something applied, then it’s
not innovation anymore, it’s already there. It’s like becoming pregnant. If you
are financing applied researchers, it’s like financing a woman who is already
pregnant; the financing should be used to make her pregnant,” he said. “Real
innovation comes out of stuff that is not yet applied.”
Dr. Eli Opper,
former chief scientist of Israel and head of the Eureka High Level Group under
Israel’s chairmanship, said that in an era of rapid technological advancement,
the global economy is also changing rapidly and Eureka must move with the
Citing data that show that 25 percent of Israel’s best scientific
minds have taken their skills to Boston, the Silicon Valley and other foreign
destinations, Opper said that “people go to live where it is best for them,” and
that the world is interconnected to such an extent today that it is in
everybody’s interest to encourage cross-border R&D projects.
topic of innovation, we need to speed things up in an orderly fashion. We have
to understand how knowledge spreads throughout the world. Everybody needs to
worry about every link in the chain,” he said. “We have to understand how the
chain works, and that it’s not just about one region.”
more than 300 collaborative projects annually in a variety of industries, valued
at more than 1.5 billion euros. These projects match up partners from two or
more member countries – including small and medium-sized enterprises, large
industry, and research institutes.
Matimop, the executive agency of the
Office of the Chief Scientist of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, is in
charge of Israel’s chairmanship of Eureka. Israel will hand over the
chairmanship to Hungary at the end of the month.