The European Commission has launched a public consultation into its ‘no-holds barred’ ICT (Information and Communications Technology) research and innovation staretgy over the next decade up to 2020.

The new ICT strategy promises to address key weaknesses in Europe’s ICT industry and markets, as identified in the recent Aho report.

Contributions from industry, ICT experts, policy-makers and the wider public are sought to inform the new strategy for the new EU ICT research and innovation, to be unveiled next year.

The Commission has specifically identified health and ageing as areas that will require imaginative ICT solutions. Over the past 15-years the EU has invested almost €1 billion in e-health research and development.

The aim of the 2020 ICT strategy will be to put European ICT industry, especially SMEs, to the fore of the race for global competitiveness. The public consultation is open until 7 November 2008.

"ICT is the primal force for innovation and development in the global economy, which is why Europe must attract investments in ICT research and development and the best minds and ideas,” said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

Reding added: “We also face challenges in energy, health and ageing that can only be tackled if we deploy ICT solutions."

This consultation is part of the Commission’s response to the report by former Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho (MEMO/08/430), which found key failings of current ICT research and innovation in Europe.

The Aho report found Europe is underperforming in both the level and intensity of its research and innovation investments.

Internationally 33% of research and innovation in developed economies worldwide is in ICT, but in Europe it accounts for less than 25%, mainly because it is highly fragmented.

Furthermore, the EU represents 32% of the global ICT market, but European firms only take up 22% of the global market.

The European Commission plans to respond to these challenges through a "no holds barred" review of its ICT research and innovation strategy.

The consultation asks three main questions:

• What are the main challenges ahead for ICT research and innovation? As the ICT revolution continues, what are Europe’s key priorities for research and innovation?

• How, and in what fields, should Europe aim to lead? Europe has world industrial and technological leaders in key fields such as telecommunications and embedded systems. How can advances in these areas be reinforced and what new areas should a leadership profile be sought?

• What is the role of public policy in putting Europe at the forefront of ICT innovation? How can research policy be consolidated to create a European market for ICT innovation? How can complementary policy fields such as standardisation, licensing and intellectual property regimes be adapted to support the early commercialisation of research results?


The EU’s public consultation document