The Saga of Research vs Innovation X

EIT ICT Labs operates in the new Innovation Ecosystems creating new entrepreneurs, helping existing ones and leveraging on research results

10. Research and Innovation in Ecosystems

In these last fifteen years knowledge has been created at breakneck pace in more and more fields, through contamination of tools making it possibile to extract, process and create information. Electronics and communications are the engine of this growth. Personal computers have placed supercomputer power in the hands of million of researchers all over the world and communications have made knowledge accessible to the farthest corners of the world. Research has boomed, and with it the knowledge production. It is now estimated that every year we are doubling the world knowledge base, the half life of knowledge is less than five years (half of what you know today is going to be superseded by new knowledge becoming available in the coming five years).

Another factor is transforming the aggregation of knowledge, similarly to what is happening in the business space. Whilst in the past research was creating more knowledge in more and more focussed areas, today we see more and more contamination: as an example knowledge created in an area is stimulating knowledge growth in a different area. What we are learning in biology is being used to increase our knowledge in computation science and in turns increased knowledge in computation is being applied in biology accelerating the creation of knowledge. It is worth noticing that the European flagship initiative “The Brain” aims at increasing enormously our understanding on how signals are processed in the brain and perception - information is created and that is expected to create new computation paradigm that can revolutionise processing of data. Two remote areas of research are now influencing one another. The other flagship initiative, “Graphene”, is expected to generate a fall out in areas as diverse as energy, displays, computation, bio-sensors….

What used to be value chain like paradigm in research are now being transformed in ecosystem like paradigm.

Little green men are still green, and little red men are still red. However, we now have many more little green men and many more little red men and they are contaminating one another. 

The number of start ups is growing, as it is the number of incubators to nurture these start ups. The EIT ICT Labs brings a European dimension to these incubators and start ups by connecting them to a wider knowledge base (comprising much more than technical knowledge) and to a wider market place (at least one having a European scale).

Part of the EIT ICT Labs activity is to create little red men and to connect them to the variety of knowledge that is available and that needs to be filtered down to what makes sense in a business perspective. Another part is to link the little red men and their start ups to the big value chains, the best way to ensure an impact to innovation. Most of EIT ICT Labs partners are indeed main players in consolidated value chains and they can act as springboard for landing innovation in the market.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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