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I S S U E S E V E N

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

www.horizon2020projects.com

80

D I G I TA L E C O N O M Y

With digitalisation helping to reduce the number of

people in work, to what extent is it the responsibility of

EIT Digital to create jobs?

Technology has destroyed as well as created many jobs. A key driver

should much more be to create economic value. There are many tasks

in society and nowadays they are packaged in a fairly traditional job

model. Technological innovation is not always aligned with this job model.

This is why we need technical innovation to go hand in hand with social

innovation. The nature of disruptive innovation is that it disrupts existing

business models and as a result has social consequences. When these

social consequences are not properly addressed, the result will be

resistance against the innovation. A shift of focus from job creation to

value creation will ease innovation under the condition that the created

value in one way or another flows back into society.

What are the developments regarding EIT Digital in

Silicon Valley?

There is no disputing that Silicon Valley is the innovation hotspot of the

world. We need to be connected, and our hub in Silicon Valley is a

connection. We are not going to build a co-location centre and copy what

we are doing in Europe, but instead build a bridge.

By being connected, we can add value to our European ecosystem by

learning from the achievements in Silicon Valley. This way we can have

more critical mass and more experience through our partner network.

At present, there unfortunately isn’t a good balance when it comes to

exchange between Europe and the Valley in technology, human resources

and capital, especially in the digital domain. We want to try to rebalance

that by combining and joining forces. Through our strong partnership, as

well as the support from our national governments and the European

Commission, we are a recognised player in Silicon Valley.

Taking a concrete example, we were able to have a very collaborative

project with Coursera in online education; this was mainly due to a KIC

bringing together a high quality higher education group. It is very difficult

professional education and developing the

online platform together with the other KICs.

Finally, our innovation strategy is very important

as it is vital to invest in innovations that are

based on research results. Research feeds into

technology, and it is very important to focus on

those start-ups and those opportunities. We

have innovation activities and we have built a

business development infrastructure, a pan-

European business development accelerator.

We have eight action lines, and in each of these

areas we have so-called ‘innovation funnels’

where we bring together corporates, SMEs, start-

ups and scale-ups in specific domains like smart

energy, smart cities, security, clouds, network

infrastructures, etc. for our start-up funnel

because we measure our start-ups in terms of

growth in investment deals, customers, turnover,

valuation, and the number of employees. It is all

about scaling up; we are really focused on the

growth of these opportunities.

What are the greatest challenges

facing Europe in the digital world, and

how can ICT address these issues?

Our strategic innovation agenda is called

‘Blended Life’ – blending the ‘physical’ world

and the ‘digital’ world. We are focusing on

‘cyber-physical systems’, sometimes called

‘embedded systems’, and that is an area where

Europe is strong and where digitalisation

provides new opportunities.

In ‘health and wellbeing’, for example,

digitalisation will allow you to move from cure

to prevention because you can do much more

monitoring with sensor networks – there is

enough powerful computing power to do Big

Data analysis in order to prevent getting into

hospital, rather than being cured in hospital.

Nowhere else on Earth is the quality of the

health system so high and so equally accessible.

The European health system is an asset that can

be used as a basis for innovative healthcare

solutions enabled by ICT. This allows more focus

on prevention, thus offloading the financial

burden of cure. Here there are enormous

opportunities for Europe.

Jonker (far right) said

the KIC had made

great strides in

expansion, education

and innovation since

beginning operations

in 2010