Innovation, Technology, Transfer, SMEs

These highlights draw upon the OECD report. Megatrends are shaping future STI capacity and activities. Future developments in STI could accelerate, intensify or reverse megatrend dynamics. But these developments also have the potential to offer solutions to the challenges we face.

Ageing societies, climate change, health challenges and growing digitisation are, among other factors, expected to shape future R&D agendas and the scope and scale of future innovation demand. Novel demands and markets are likely to emerge, creating new skills needs and new growth and job opportunities. New approaches to sustainable growth, e.g. through the circular economy, are also emerging. STI is widely seen as key to addressing these grand challenges.

Our future is uncertain, shaped by a multitude of powerful, complex and interconnected forces, eventually altered by improbable, unpredictable and highly disruptive events. Seen over a time horizon of say 10-20 years, some of the big trends we see unfolding before us are in fact quite slow-moving. These are megatrends – large-scale social, economic, political, environmental or technological changes that are slow to form but which, once they have taken root, exercise a profound and lasting influence on many if not most human activities, processes and perceptions. Such relative stability in the trajectory of major forces of change allows some elements of a likely medium-to-long term future to be envisioned, at least with some degree of confidence. The OECD STI Outlook 2016 covers those megatrends that are expected to have strong impact on science, technology and innovation systems over the next 10-15 years. The megatrends covered are clustered into eight thematic areas as follows: Demography, Natural resources and energy, Climate change and environment, Globalisation, Role of government, Economy, jobs and productivity, Society, and Health, inequality and well-being.

How should companies meet the demands of a growing market for food, energy and water without damaging the integrity of the environment on which these services depend? And how should they take account of the additional complexity of climate change, inequality and population growth in their strategies? The interaction between food, energy, water and environmental systems is just one example of a ‘nexus’ that companies are increasingly being expected to manage.

Accelerating the transition to a low-carbon competitive economy is both an urgent necessity and a tremendous opportunity for Europe.  The communication from the European Commission “Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation - COM(2016) 763 -  constitutes the core of the research and innovation pillar of the Energy Union. The annex of the communication presents the four Technology Focus Areas will drive the next wave of innovation in the renewable-energy sector.

The report presents the result of a survey done in 33 countries in Europe. In total, 6,280 responses were received from European academics and HEI management (HEI managers and HEI professionals working with industry) whilst from Italy, 419 responses from academics (324) and HEI management (95) were received. The study measured the perceptions of these two groups in respect to their own cooperation efforts and those of their university respectively.

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