Esko Aho gives his verdict on information technology research in Europe

25 Jun 2008 | News
Europe has started doing better in IT research but still has a lot more to do to capitalise on the results, says a report by former Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho.

Esko Aho: A lot more to do.

Europe has started doing better in information technology research but still has a lot more to do to capitalise on the results according to a report by former Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho.

A team of independent experts led by Aho, analysed the effectiveness of Information Society research under the EU’s 6th Framework Programme for Research and Development, which invested over €4 billion between 2003 and 2006, complementing the €100 billion invested by Member States and private companies.

“In recent years Europe’s Information Society research has delivered encouraging results from mobile communications to Electronic Stability Control systems in motor cars,” said Aho. “However, I believe a systemic change in the EU’s research policy is needed to avoid that EU research spending is not more than a mere drop in the ocean.”

He called on the Member States and on the European Parliament to equip the EU with the right, flexible tools to better focus European high-tech research and to open it up to more risk and to new international partners.

The Information Society Commissioner, Viviane Reding said the report is a wake-up call for all policy makers responsible for economic policy, research and budgetary rules. “The Euro 4 billion spent on high-tech research is a considerable amount of taxpayer’s money. However, Europe does not get the most out of it in terms of growth, jobs and innovation.”

“The Aho Report has rightly concluded that the effectiveness of Europe's high-tech research is too often stifled by red tape, a lack of venture capital and a risk-averse mentality in both national and European administrations.”

The Aho Panel included the following independent experts:

  • Esko Aho (Chairman) - former Prime Minister of Finland and President of the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development (Sitra)

  • Michel Cosnard - Professor at the Polytechnic School of the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, Chairman and CEO of INRIA (Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique)

  • Hans-Olaf Henkel - Professor at the University of Mannheim and former CEO of IBM Europe, Middle East and Africa as well as former President of the Federation of German Industries

  • Luc Soete – Director of UNU-MERIT (the United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and social Research and training centre on Innovation and Technology)

  • Nicoletta Stame – Professor, Social Policy, University of Rome “La Sapienza” and Co-founder and first president of AIV (Italian Evaluation Association)

  • Pavel Telička – former EU Commissioner (Health and Consumer Protection), Cofounder of BXL Consulting and Senior Advisor, European Policy Centre.

Never miss an update from Science|Business:   Newsletter sign-up