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1st Science|Business Sector Day: Europe in the digital world

A S|B Network event (May 22,12:30 – 18:15 CET; May 23 9.30 - 12.30) 


In 2023, Science|Business is launching a brand-new event series of "Sector Days” to bring the Science|Business Network, partners and key experts from in and outside the Network together to focus on (arguably) the three most significant domains of current R&I policy and funding, both at the EU and international level: Digital, Green Deal & Climate, and Health & Life Science. Each Sector Day will revolve around an overarching topic high on everybody’s policy agenda.

Participant Profiles

  • Science: Vice-rectors, deans of faculty, heads of department, institute, or lab, and senior researchers
  • Industry: R&D executives overseeing key projects, pipelines and partnershipsEU and Government Affairs teams 
  • Policy: Key representatives from European institutions, national ministries, innovation agencies and international organisations
Day 1 - 22 May

12:30     Registration, coffee & light lunch 

13:30     Welcome by Science|Business

13:35     Setting digital priorities: Perspectives from the Belgian government

A live Q&A with Mathieu Michel, State Secretary for Digitalisation, Government of Belgium

13:45    Welcome & Opening Plenary – Rules of the game: How will Europe’s digital landscape change in the near future, and to what end?

A live-streamed panel discussion focusing on the state of progress in Europe’s most significant pieces of legislation, which key developments and decisions are expected by the end of this European Commission and Parliament’s terms and how the outcomes may affect European and international R&D organisations in both the public and private sectors.


  • Brando Benifei, Member & Rapporteur (AI Act), European Parliament
  • Ibán García del Blanco, Member & Rapporteur (Data Act), European Parliament
  • Jeremy Rollison, Senior Director of EU Government Affairs, Microsoft
  • Christer Hammarlund, Cyber Security & Defence Officer, DG CNECT, European Commission

14:30     Coffee break

14:45     High-level roundtables/workshops

Parallel, in-depth policy discussions:

1/ The future of connectivity: Is Europe ready to lead the 6G race?

6G technologies will have a critical role to play in defining the future of communications networks, bringing together the digital, physical and human worlds in unprecedented ways, and harnessing intelligent knowledge systems with advanced computational capabilities. Based on its role in developing 5G technology standards, and its excellent scientific and engineering bases, the EU is well positioned for the race ahead – but the outcome is by no means a foregone conclusion. In this session, an expert panel and town hall forum will explore the challenges Europe – and in particular the Commission and member-states – must overcome to deliver 6G by the end of this decade, and what role its flagship R&D programmes might play in that process. 

Featured speakers:

  • Pekka Rantala, Head of 6G Bridge Program, Business Finland
  • Peter Stuckmann – Head of Unit, Future Connectivity Systems, DG CNECT, European Commission 
  • Henna Virkkunen – Member, European Parliament
  • Maiju Gyran, Senior Science Adviser, Coordinator of the Flagship Programme, Academy of Finland
  • Maarit Palovirta, Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs, European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO)

Supported by Business Finland

2/ Standard-Essential Patents: Stumbling Block for the Internet of Things? 

Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) play a critical role in enabling today's mobile telephony and the Internet of Things. The European Commission's proposal to regulate the licensing of SEPs is aimed at ensuring a fair licensing regime that fosters innovation and development in Europe, but it has also sparked a reflection on potentially undermining incentives for research and innovation. In this roundtable, academics, research organisations, and EU policy makers will explore the proposal's potential impact on open standards development, open innovation, and the overall innovation ecosystem in Europe.

Featured Participants:

  • Patrick McCutcheon, Managing Director, IP Europe
  • Inês de Matos Pinto, Policy Advisor, European Parliament
  • Axel Ferrazzini, Managing Director, 4iP Council
  • Ashok Ganesh, Director Market Perspectives & Innovation, CEN-CENELEC
  • Patrick Hofkens, Director IPR Policy, Ericsson
  • Gregor Langus, Vice President, Cornerstone Research
  • Christian Loyau, Legal Affairs and Governance Director, ETSI
  • Jillian Mertsch, Senior Director Government Affairs, Qualcomm
  • Collette Rawnsley, Chairperson, IP Europe
  • Dirk Weiler, Head of Standards Policy, Nokia

Supported by IP Europe

16:15     Break

16:30     Closing plenary: Digital world: Where can Europe take the lead?

Live-streamed panel discussion and Q&A with top-level policymakers

Focus on: R&D priorities for key funding programmes and related strategic goals, international or supranational R&D initiatives.


  • Werner Stengg, Cabinet Expert, Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager
  • François Bertrand, Vice President for Research and Innovation, Polytechnique Montreal
  • Hilary Hanahoe, Secretary General, Research Data Alliance

17:15     Networking reception

18:15     End of Day

Day 2 - 23 May

09:30 – Registration & coffee

10:00 – Welcome

10:05 – Connecting the dots: Has the EU’s approach to digital R&I become too complex for its own good? 

The opening session of Day 2 will address a key challenge raised by various Network members in recent months, namely: what they see as the growing complexity and fragmentation of the digital R&I funding landscape in Europe.  Beyond tracking the sheer volume of programmes – be they under Horizon Europe, Digital Europe, Connecting Europe Facility or other instruments – research organisations of all profiles are struggling to navigate through a labyrinth of eligibility criteria, co-funding obligations, TRL level requirements, the role of SMEs and universities in industry-led partnerships, IP management, and more besides. Against this backdrop, this session – supported by expert member perspectives – will give members a platform to air their views on what is going wrong (and right) with the EU’s current approach, how the Commission can address the fragmentation and complexity problem, and what it can do to incentivise and enable greater access for the whole digital R&I community within its flagship programmes.

Featured speakers:

  • Jean-Francois Junger - Deputy Head of Unit, Digital, Health and Digital Executive Agency (HADEA), European Commission
  • Afonso Ferreira – Head, European Digital Matters and Senior Researcher, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)
  • Philip Pietkiewicz – Secretary General, AI, Data and Robotics Association (Adra)
  • Cathrin Stöver – Chief Communications Officer, GEANT & Co-Chair, EOSC Association Executive Board

11:15 – Coffee break

11:30 – Matchmaking among members for future R&D collaboration, followed by a light networking lunch 

13:00 – End of Digital Sector Day

Mathieu Michel
Secretary of State for Digitalisation, Federal Government of Belgium
Brando Benifei MEP
Member & Rapporteur (AI Act), European Parliament
Iban Garcia del Blanco
Member & Rapporteur (Data Act), European Parliament
Henna Virkkunen
Member, European Parliament
Werner Stengg
Cabinet Expert, Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager
Peter Stuckmann
Head of Unit, Future Connectivity Systems, DG CNECT, European Commission
Jeremy Rollison
Senior Director of EU Government Affairs, Microsoft
François Bertrand
Vice President for Research and Innovation, Polytechnique Montreal
Hilary Hanahoe
Secretary General, Research Data Alliance
Patrick McCutcheon
Managing Director, IP Europe
Pekka Rantala
Head of 6G Bridge Program, Business Finland
Jillian Mertsch
Senior Director Government Affairs, Qualcomm
Dirk Weiler
Head of Standards Policy, Nokia
Practical Information

Royal Library of Belgium (KBR)
Boulevard de l'Empereur 4 1000 Brussels