With this in mind, it was interesting to hear the thoughts of Carlos Moedas, the EU's Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, in his opening address to a recent conference. The event – 'A new start for Europe: Opening up to an ERA of Innovation' – was intended to broadly embrace open science, the European Research Area (ERA) and innovation and Moedas took the opportunity to identify the way ahead in order to overcome the challenges we face. One key challenge, he said, was that: "We are too rarely succeeding in getting research results to market. Technologies developed in Europe are, most of the time, commercialised elsewhere."
Maybe this is not such a British disease after all.
Moedas went on to say that a significant reason for this poor level of technology transfer was in the funding sources and he proposed a number of initiatives – some within Horizon 2020, some aimed specifically at SMEs – that could help alleviate the problem. Meanwhile, the introduction of 'a seal of excellence' would identify companies that are fit for funding, with the intention of removing obstacles in the financing process.
It sounds good, but the problem has not always been a lack of money, the difficulty has been getting hold of it. Hopefully, the seal of excellence will be used to make the process easier to navigate.
On another matter – a variation on the theme of 'seal of excellence' – the deadline for entering the British Engineering Excellence Awards (BEEAs) is approaching quickly. We are looking for engineers and engineering companies who can inspire through their excellence – the true beacons in British engineering.
And we know they are out there. Every year, we see a new crop that demonstrates the boundaries are constantly being pushed. Maybe for some this excellence is so commonplace that you do not realise how good you are. We would be only too pleased to be the judge of that. Entries must be in by the end of July and full details are at http://www.beeas.co.uk/