In an ever more globally integrated economy, Europe has headlined one of its key competitive differentiators: Research and Development.
A fact acknowledged by Horizon 2020, the European Union’s ambitious € 80 billion program for research and innovation.
Part of the drive to create new growth and jobs in Europe, Horizon 2020 will see projected EU research investment increase by as much as 46% compared to the current EU research programs, when it begins in 2014.
That’s no small bet.
As it stands, the EU’s current round of research investment funding is expected to create around 174,000 jobs in the short-term and up to 450,000 jobs and € 80 billion in GDP growth over 15 years.
This program will promote research to tackle the biggest societal challenges facing Europe and the world. Looking at the EU’s track record, appetite for a smarter planet is evident.
EU-backed research projects include a 26-partner international consortium in France, which demonstrates how the impact of CO2 absorption by oceans may affect marine resources and food security.
In Spain, a research project based on collaboration between local and German participants saw the construction of the first large-scale commercial solar thermal power plant in Europe. This uses new methods to concentrate the sun’s rays and produce heat later converted into electricity.
These projects, by their very scope, duration and complexity are intensely collaborative affairs.
Somewhat uniquely, they highlight an ability to bring researchers and businesses together in Europe to address challenges and apply science to deliver smarter solutions.
Europe may have more than 20 nations and about 200 spoken languages; but there is little doubt about its ability to work in partnership in order to innovate.
A two-millennium cultural heritage, sustained investment in skills and world-leading universities provide the platform for this collaborative research tradition.
IBM too, recognizes the power of research collaboration in Europe.
In Denmark, we are part of the EU EcoGrid project, developing a smart energy grid that will balance the supply of renewable energy sources, such as wind power, with peaks and troughs in national grid demand.
Our Zurich scientists are providing the supercomputing power for the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. Together, they will design computing systems required to process the immense volume of data generated by the Square Kilometer Array – the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope.
In a decade-long endeavor, this telescope will ultimately look into the Big Bang, the origins of the universe and perhaps even answer the question every sci-fi fan wants to know: “Are we alone?”
Today though, we mark the first anniversary of the opening of the Zurich-based Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center, a collaboration with ETH Zurich.
Nobel laureates Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer were recognized in 1986 for inventing the scanning tunneling microscope, which paved the way for nanotechnology research as we know it.
At the center opening a year ago, they discussed the highs and lows of their research work – but evidently from their lively, joint discussion, they were never, ever “alone”.