May 3rd, 2007
EARTO Annual Conference in Munich. EARTO is the European Association for RTO (Research Technology Organisations).
- Setting the scene by Erkki KM Leppävuori (President of EARTO and
President of VTT, Finland). He puts emphasis on the relationship of innovation and business processes.
- Lars-Göran Rosengren, CEO Volvo Technologies Corporation, reflected on the industrial innovation system and the relationship to RTOs. Where in the process would (external) RTOs fit in? He recommends to RTOs to
- Clarify mission: provide problem solutions (in an application context)
- Improve strategies and operational excellence: create realistic strategies
- Build a European structure and increase critical mass: “Europeanise”
- Start to globalise, e.g. by setting up collaborative networks in a systematic way
Governments should strengthen their governance of RTOs. Finally, industry should improve their efforts for external R&D.
- Johann Wilhelm Arntz, President of AiF, Germany, talked about innovation and SMEs. He basically presented structure, activities and funding of AiF, an agency mainly targeted at SMEs (300 Mio. EUR funding per year, 103 members, targeting almost 50.000 companies, mostly SMEs).
- Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) by Anna Krzyzanowska (Policy Officer, DG Research). She talked about loans as another tool to support R&D and innovation (“avoid Skype going to the US to grow”). The initiative is in close cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB); RSFF is open to companies and RTOs/universities; 1 Bio. EUR is to be invested.
- Ernst Kristiansen (Executive Vice President, of SINTEF) talked about RTO Participation in the 6th Framework Programme. The analysis starts with the hypothesis that RTO participation in FP6 is strong and that countries with strong RTO involvement benefit in their economy. 51.000 contracts have been analysed. Both RTOs and universities are often coordinators, at least: their share in coordination is higher than their share in budget. RTOs are heavily involved in the thematic priorities; they have a strong involvement in IPs; in summary, RTOs are key players in FP6.
- Wolfgang Polt, Joanneum Research (Vienna Office) talked about Benchmarking:
RTO Corporate Development Strategy. The future of PROs (Public research organisations) has been analysed in a study (covering the years 2000 – 2005), starting with strategy papers of existing EARTO members and questionnaires, etc. Some basic indicators: 100k income per employee, most have had major organisational changes in recent years, have a had (strong) growth (this implies that cuts in governmental funding have been compensated by more contractual research), … PROs often serve the role of (national) hubs for several activities, e.g. competence centres in Austria, etc. Orientation points are mostly international, often regional (but less often national). Smaller ones do hardly do basic research; only moderate scientific and commercial risks are taken. Outlook/future: RTOs expect competition to increase, mainly from academia (secondly from private RTOs). At the same time the cooperation with academia is being looked after.
- Cooperation between University and RTOs by Reinhard Maschuw (Chairman of the Executive Board, Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, Germany). He argues that international excellence would be a key indicator for benchmarking science and innovation; we are “good” on average, but we lack the top-centres, e.g. top universities, etc. He basically argues for closer cooperation between universities and RTOs. The Karlsruhe way of achieving this is “KIT – Karlsruhe Institute of Technology“.
- Jan Vogel (TNO, the Netherlands) “Collaboration with industry â€“ impact for
an RTO”. He outlines a three-box model: one for society, one for the market, one for science & technology.
- Sonja Sheikh (Austrian Institute for SME Research) “How RTOs can support SMEs”. Some data: 99,6% of Austria’s 270.000 companies are SMEs, of which 87% have less than 10 employees.
- Helene Ulmer from CEA talked about “RTO from Research to Innovation”. She mentioned a model with four “P”s: Publications, Patents, Prototypes and Products. The DRT that Helene mainly reported on, focuses on patents in order to bridge the gap between publications and products. Her conclusions are: RTOs should help the transition from basic research to technological research.
- Ram Mohan (inBAC, USA) “Technology commercialization in the new global paradigm”. Some facts: Only 15-20% of R&D derive value; innovation must be done where it is done the best, it must be commercialised where it can be done so most effectively; startups fail to 70% due to lack of money. Key problem is the disconnection between R&D and market: the incubation gap. Thinking big/global is amongst the excellent messages he packaged in his talk. Even when starting an SME you need to think global. Finally: Silicon Valley is the place on earth to start a company.
- Frank M. Salzgeber (ESA, the Netherlands), “The space you need to get your business off the ground”. He started by quoting Nasa: “A society that stops exploring is a society that stops progressing”. Then mainly argues for thinking innovative and cross-sector (undermind with several examples from Apple, etc.).
For a background paper on the role of RTOs in ERA see also ec.europa.eu.