Main outcomes from the first Innovation & Entrepreneurship Expert Group roundtable

The first Think NEXUS Workshop took place in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center , Washington D.C. on 10th July 2019, in parallel with the GCTC Expo. During the Workshop the 3 Expert Groups had their first round of face-to-face discussions, which were focused on fostering next EU-US collaboration over NGI thematic areas.

During the first Innovation & Entrepreneurship Expert Group discussion, experts encouraged to address friction points in terms of bilateral collaboration between the EU and the US. Some of the most relevant aspects that were considered during the round table are:

  • Concept of innovation.  Definitions matter; it’s hard to have effective understanding and build on concepts without them. One of the basic discussions that took place was about the vision of ‘innovation’ itself, and the role that private and public sectors should play in it, which slightly differs in each ecosystem – Innovation of the market versus technological innovation. Innovation in the USA has a clear go-to-market implication.
  • Role of public administration. Public agencies struggle to manage a landscape where technology changes at so rapid pace that is not realistic to consider the government as a thought leader in innovation. However, there are 2 potential aspects where policy can have a significant role: 1) allow innovation to happen, as regulation can get in the way of disruption; 2) identify how to bring society into the equation, highlighting the social issues and making them relevant. Technology sector may face the risk to lose the trust from the citizens if cases like privacy breaches and unauthorised exploitation of personal data continue. Policy should be adapted to a local vision.   In the case of Europe, the EC has a much stronger influence over the innovation ecosystem as a consequence of the weighty public funding instruments, and its regulatory strategy. A few experts consider this should not be the way to go as this top-down approach may create inefficiencies in the system and leaks in terms of resources.
  • Future of Work. Europe and the USA often have a different interpretation of the achievements/KPIs when it comes to the market impact of innovation.
  • Single Market. While the US already works as a unified market removing key differences between online and offline worlds, breaking down the barriers to cross-border online activity, the readiness of the European ‘Digital Single Market’ vision still lags behind. Up until now, EU citizens and businesses have often faced barriers when using online tools and services. These barriers mean that consumers have restricted access to some goods and services, businesses cannot reap all benefits from digitisation, and governments and citizens cannot fully benefit from this digital transformation.
  • Cultural gaps. Regardless of the multiple efforts towards a EU-US collaboration, there is a cultural divide that prevent an effective and stronger Transatlantic partnership. Europe has already achieved a mature level of collaboration among its member countries, often facilitated by common frameworks. However, when it comes to working with US partners, there are a number of significant differences in terms of culture, such as:
    • Semantics;
    • Communication;
    • Entrepreneurship in universities; and
    • Culture of failure.

Partners in both ecosystems interested in fostering a bilateral collaboration must understand that cultural divide is an issue and, therefore, need to make efforts to adapt to each other. One of the proposals suggested was to educate US partners into the European mind-set.

  • Joint narrative. It is crucial to identify shared ‘pains’ and propose strategic plans that will allow us to target priorities and objectives towards the Digital Economy and the evolution of Internet. It is important to recognize — and then reinforce — the fundamental principles and programmes that can underpin like-minded cooperation and global competitiveness in Focus Areas such as 5G and Artificial Intelligence around privacy, openness, trust and diversity.
  • Collaboration scheme. One of the main conclusions of the Expert Group was the lack of a proper and agile platform for collaboration between regions around technology innovation. A balanced instrument -not 100% sponsored by public or private funds, as this approach does not fully fit neither region- that could support and drive non-partisan leadership on forward-looking Transatlantic partnerships around innovation and entrepreneurship.

Stay tuned to know more about the outcomes of the Expert Group discussions!

[1] Cf. https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/
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