That´s the proposal made by our CEO, César Alierta, during the lunch shared yesterday by the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, with relevant business representatives in Madrid.
César Alierta considers it necessary to act to reduce the digital gap existing between Europe and USA or some countries in Asia. That is why he proposed to create a European fund to finance specific projects linked to the ICTs in the next 4 years. His plan is focused in fostering the creation of “smart cities”, as already exist in other parts of the world (Sillicon Valley…). But the most relevant proposal was the implementation of a “pan European network of ICT business labs” in order to incentivise entrepreneurship in Europe, supported by a venture capital fund.
The Telefónica CEO explained that this initiative could be financed by a Public Private Partnership, with a budget of 6.000 million euros for 4 years, provided equally by the European Union, EU Governments and the top 10 companies of the ICT sector.
Furthermore, César Alierta announced that Telefónica could contribute to this European Single Market of Innovation up to 200 million euros. The objective would be to foster creativity in the technological area in order to be able to play a relevant role in the Internet era, next to the other economic powers already involved in the digital world.
This proposal fully fits with the European Commission´s objectives as explained in its Europe 2020 strategy presented in March 2010 to get out of the crisis and prepare the EU's economy for the next decade, and more specifically with the EC Innovation Union Communication, one of the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 presented in October 2010. The first outcomes of the new Innovation Union Scoreboard have just been published this week. The conclusions speak for themselves: Europe still maintains a clear lead over the emerging economies like India or Russia but is lagging behind USA and Japan. Meanwhile China is catching up pretty quickly and Brazil has entered into the race too…
Bearing these results in mind, the European Council of Energy & Innovation, which took place today in Brussels, also considers as essential the role of innovation as a key driver for growth. In its conclusions, the European Council indicates that there is a need to implement “a strategic and integrated approach to boosting innovation and taking full advantage of Europe´s intellectual capital to the benefit of citizens, companies and researchers” and has asked the European Commission to present some proposals before the end of 2011.
The idea exposed by César Alierta was well received by both Heads of State and could be part of the European strategy on innovation. Let´s see if it will be followed by some more concrete initiatives in the next months as Europe clearly needs it!