1st reading: Effective research and innovation agendas to tackle societal challenges.
The case of Strategy Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan)
In the EU policy landscape, long-term trends, often referred to as “grand” or “societal” challenges such as climate change orpopulation’s ageing, call for efforts that go beyond mere public regulatory intervention. These challenges demand a major and sustained effort and their realization is not possible without major breakthroughs in Research and Innovation (R&I).
Priority has been given by the new strategic R&I initiatives to solution to societal challenges. This is leading to the emergence of the concept of“innovation partnerships” and should materialize many of the ideal characteristics of an effective R&I agenda, such as strategic coherence, an integrated approach to R&D, innovation and education, the establishment of favorable framework conditions, the promotion of cooperation between all actors, good governance and adequate funding.
In 2007, the European Commission has presented a plan which aimsto accelerate the development and deployment of cost effective low carbon technologies: the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan). The SET-Plan provide a strategy concerning the research and innovation (R&I) to green the EU energy sector while ensuring the security of the supply and increasing the EU competitiveness. The SET-Plan could become a good groundwork to tackle othersocietal challenges.
Many institutions, programmes and committees are involved in policymaking in the energy sector. The SET-Plan puts some order by introducing a strategic framework at European level to organise and align efforts. Proper attention must be paid to the heterogeneity of the various instruments: differences not only in the hierarchical levels and the type of actors involved, but also atthe unequal coverage of different technological areas and the different financial size of implementation initiatives.
– Setting clear priorities and defining the contribution of existing instruments:
To tackle the societal challenges, a broad strategic framework needs to be provided. This mean among others taking stock of R&I activities in the field and stressingthe importance of relying on existing instruments.
A number of key technologies based on their technological maturity is selected by the SET-Plan and to help bring innovation to the market, each key technologies is targeted by a European Industrial Initiatives (EIIs), established after consultation of the relevant stakeholders. Nevertheless research initiatives are launched also in technologicalfields that had not been identified as priorities for the first phase of implementation because they are not mature enough for a joint research and innovation effort, Even if these technologies are considered priorities, R&I initiatives may be launched in other fields as well, reflecting different stages of maturity, provided that the criteria used to determine when and how a technology becomeseligible for inclusion in an integrated R&I plan are sufficiently transparent.
The widespread adoption of new technologies will require an adequate supply of professionals, technicians and workers to guarantee a rapid and cost-effective deployment and proper maintenance. This strengthens the case for a thorough integration of education into R&I activities, in order to realize the so-calledKnowledge Triangle (research, innovation and education). The SET-Plan rightly considers research and innovation as closely interwoven and recognizes the need to further add education policies to the picture.
– reducing, reusing and recycling policy instruments:
We might need new policies if the existing ones do not provide an ideal mix. In that case we could also consider the possibility...