The third edition of the European Intersectoral Summit on Research and Innovation was held on the 25-26 September 2014 at the European Parliament in Brussels. Organised by Atomium Culture together with the European Commission, Parliament and the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers of the EU, the 2014 edition assessed the relationship between science, media and democracy.
In 2010, the EU launched Europe 2020: a growth strategy for the EU for the coming decade. Europe 2020 placed research and innovation at the centre the European growth strategy dedicating one of the seven flagship initiatives to innovation, the Innovation Union, as well as outlining a clear focus for the Digital Agenda for Europe and the research programme Horizon 2020.
Four years on and with both the Parliament and Commission set to change in 2014, it was timely to assess how Europe progressed in relation to the objectives set and what are the key challenges and opportunities for the following five years.
The topic of the third edition of the EISRI Summit is Science, Media and Democracy. It focused on the importance of citizen-centred approaches to science and innovation in the European Union and was designed to create a unique opportunity for intersectoral and interdisciplinary discussion between leading stakeholders to:
• Create a debate at the level of heads of state and leading thinkers on the role of knowledge in the digital age reflecting the challenges and opportunities of the new media environment;
• Showcase global best practices and assess the most efficient ways how different stakeholders can contribute to this endeavour;
• Support intersectoral dialogue with the public at large on these themes and engage the public through the participation and cooperation of the European newspapers engaged in the Permanent Platform of Atomium Culture;
• Present concrete solutions and recommendations on the discussed problems and challenges having in mind both short – term and long – term perspectives.
The conference brought together leaders and key representatives of research institutions, businesses, media, NGOs, policy makers and professional science communicators to discuss and reflect science and society issues and support the development of a competitive system of innovation in Europe.
EISRI III presented high-level speakers including former heads of state and key representatives of the European institutions and national governments as well as leaders from leading research institutions, businesses and media.
The dedicated workshops were designed to reflect the key issues in this area and to promote “out of the box” thinking and participatory processes.
”Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have”.
The current situation with changing demographics and cutting in public spending has precipitated the need to redefine the European healthcare system to suit the needs and challenges of the 21st century. The need to reform Europe’s healthcare systems is something that has been discussed for a long time. New models, declarations and buzz words are continuously launched. Yet the discussion remains set within the existing systems and structures.
In the light of the changes that will be necessary for the coming decades the debates need to shift the paradigm. As Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the world Health Organisation states “All ministers are health ministers”. In order to address behaviour modification across the value chain, different approaches and thinking are needed.
The current discussion at the EISRI Summit intends to pose the issue from a new perspective by bringing together leading thinkers from different backgrounds and interests to think about to create the necessary environment to be able to push through such an ambitious agenda. The roundtable will encourage “out of the box” thinking and rethinking on the current structures and interactions between the different stakeholders.
Reforming Europe’s healthcare systems will change the rules of the game for all stakeholders in a multi-billion euro sector, averaging in Europe nearly 10% spending of GDP on health, and that affects every single European citizen. This change will need to see researchers and experts, industry, civil society organisations, policy makers join forces and start an open dialogue with the public and media to push forward the necessary paradigm shift.
”After ten years of action at EU level to develop and promote the role of science
in society, at least one thing is very clear: we can only find the right answers
to the challenges we face by involving as many stakeholders as possible in
the research and innovation process”.
Máire Geoghegan – Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
Never before in human history has so much scientific knowledge been available and so easily accessible. We have the means to understand the challenges we face and to make effective policies. Nevertheless the record in delivering truly evidence-based policy is mixed, at best and is cause of considerable frustration to scientists.
Why science sometimes succeeds in shaping and influencing the policy agenda and why it fails is poorly understood. A better understanding of the policy process by scientists and of the scientific process by policymakers would surely help. Recognising the democratic drivers behind policymaking also calls for more public engagement in science and policy, now much more possible in the digital age. This session will hear from practitioners of science advice to policy who will highlight current best practices and identify the challenges still to be addressed.
Entrepreneurial Europe: Strengthening Innovation Systems for a more competitive European Research Area
”There are two words that are closely related to innovation. There are entrepreneurship and economy. The connectivity between discovery and economy has never been more apparent than it is today”.
Prof. Philip A. Sharp, President of The AAAS
Research and innovation play a pivotal role in the EU 2020 Strategy. The Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers of EU has put “growth and jobs” as the focus of their “Fresh Start” programme underlining that “research and innovation are the pillars of sustainable growth. The performance of Europe’s public and private research systems is a key driver for the competitiveness of European industry and for creating new jobs and technology-based entrepreneurship” .
In the light of recent economic theory that underline that non-linear views of innovation, aspects like education, innovation acceptance and strong horizontal networks are equally as important as spending for the development of competitive “systems of innovation”, the third edition of the EISRI Summit want to focus on these aspects
This session will look at how Europe’s innovation system compares globally, assess the strengths and weaknesses of the system as well as contribute to new thinking on what Europe can do concretely to promote stronger innovation networks. The session will hear from global experts on innovation, representatives from industry and the media to look at both formal and informal actions that Europe should focus on in the coming years to become more competitive and innovative.
“Now digital technology and tools offer the chance for a new transformation: improving research and innovation and making them more relevant for citizens and society. We are moving towards open, digital science – a trend that is gradual but unstoppable. That trend, and the desire to embrace it, comes, not from politicians, but from the scientific and academic communities themselves. And I am determined to support it.”
Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
The internet is the single most powerful force of change in the world of knowledge that we have seen in at least the past 600 years. How will this change the way we do science and how science relates to all other aspects of life? This session will build on the ongoing discussions on Digital Science for Europe and assess what the challenges and opportunities will be in the coming years.
In July 2014 the European Commission launched a public consultation on ‘Science 2.0’, in order to gauge the trend towards a more open, data-driven and people-focused way of doing research and innovation. “Researchers are using digital tools to get thousands of people participating in research, for example by asking them to report if they catch flu in order to monitor outbreaks and predict possible epidemics. Scientists are being more open too: sharing their findings online at an early stage, comparing and debating their work to make it better. Increasingly, scientific publications are available online for free. By some estimates, 90 percent of all available data in the world has been generated in the past two years, and scientific data output is growing at a rate of 30 percent per year.”
As digital science is gaining momentum, this session will assess the challenges and opportunities of Science 2.0 as well as see how this new trend can improve interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration; it will present new projects that are aiming to create the necessary environment to allow the full potential of Science 2.0 to mature.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
The strength of the European economy in the future will depend on our capacity to develop and attract talent. Rethinking our education system thus becomes a priority in order to ensure that young people are ready for the very different world they will be facing. How can transdisciplinary collaborations support the development of new models? How can media support an increased interest and the development of role models in science?
In April 2013 Atomium Culture together with the European Commission, Der Standard, El Paìs, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Il Sole 24 Ore and The Irish Times launched the Special Initiative for Citizen Engagement in Science in 5 European countries (Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain). The edition on science education over 90% of respondents confirmed their belief that science education is fundamental in preparing our children for the future.
However, the majority felt that the current education system is inadequate for the task. This session will look at innovative ways to combine formal and informal learning to cater for the needs of the 21st Century.
It will bring together different stakeholders and key thinker to present concrete and innovative approaches to the issue.
For more background on this debate please see the chapter on Science Education (page 34) in the Report on The Role of the Media in Responsible Research and Innovation and the Report on HAVE YOUR SAY . . . ABOUT SCIENCE! Special Initiative on Citizen Engagement in Science available on this website: