CDP goes to Brussels to talk about innovation

What are the challenges and opportunities for innovation policies in Europe?

This was the main theme of the lunch talk on 14 October, co-organised in Brussels by our CDP colleagues from European Affairs and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) on “Funding Innovation in the EU: challenges and opportunities”.

The meeting, led by four panellists, extended invitations to the main actors from the Brussels landscape in terms of innovation policies. The proceedings were opened by Andrea Renda (Senior Research Fellow and Head of Global Governance, Regulation, Innovation & Digital Economy at CEPS), who provided an overview of the challenges facing the financing of innovation in Europe. Renda invoked the need, in particular, for policymakers to give a clear direction to the innovation agenda, net of the programmes already in place (InvestEU and Horizon Europe above all).

The point of view of the European Commission (EC) was provided by Jean-David Malo (Director of the Task Force “European Innovation Council” - EIC, Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission), who illustrated the EC’s willingness to build on the experience of recent years and make innovation in Europe stronger, giving innovative start-ups the opportunity to grow and stay in the market. The first obstacle in this process lies in the resources available for financing riskier companies (such as innovative start-ups), which are still scarce in Europe compared, for example, to the United States. The European market, moreover, is also suffering from considerable fragmentation, in the face of an Internal Market that has not yet been completed. Hence the key role the Commission expects the public sector to play, together with strategic partners such as the National Promotion Institutes (NPBIs).

The key role that NPBIs have in this context was illustrated by Daria Ciriaci, who focused on CDP’s experience in selecting, financing and managing investments in support of innovative projects and enterprises.  From the implementation of pilot projects such as H-Campus, to the role of patient and anchor investor in the ITATech platform and promoter of funds such as the Caravella Fund and the Italian Innovation Fund, CDP’s role as a leading player in the promotion of innovation in Italy has emerged clearly.

Cristina Tavio, from the Finnova Foundation (European Foundation for the support of innovation funding in companies, regions and municipalities), finally offered the Foundation’s perspective, focusing on funding not so much at national and European level, but mainly between regions and municipalities, stressing the need to also promote a culture of innovation at these levels.

The debate that followed these reports was lively and participatory: The importance of equipping innovative companies not only with funding but also with the skills needed to interact with the market and investors was emphasised. It also emerged that market fragmentation is due to the peculiarities of Member States’ economies and hence the key role being played by long-term investors such as NPBIs, with their knowledge of the national productive fabric