EUREKA @ European Business Summit 2014: A European patent system can help European businesses lead industrial research and innovation on a global scale

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Written by Pedro Nunes, HEAD of EUREKA secretariat

Pedro de Sampaio Nunes is the Head of the EUREKA Secretariat.

Pedro de Sampaio Nunes is the Head of the EUREKA Secretariat.

A patent filing is usually the very first step before the commercialisation of a new product involving any kind of innovation. It is an important step to any person wanting to develop a new technology, especially if it involves transnational collaboration.  The challenge is to find a happy medium between supporting European innovators in securing their investments, and ensuring the widest possible dissemination of the products of their R&D, which are protected with these same rules. If done properly, this is a great way to attract private investment, promoting socio-economic growth and competitiveness in Europe.

The creation of a unitary European patent system last year, after 40 years of negotiation, has been a major achievement and a great step forward for innovating businesses in Europe. EUREKA is now aiming at an equally ambitious achievement, that of encouraging the 40-plus funding bodies in its network to harmonize their rules, particularly in the context of the Eurostars SME programme it manages with the EU. 

But can a European patent system help European businesses lead industrial research and innovation on a global scale? The patent system is of course only one element in the process – although a very important one. Public investment in R&D and innovation, encouraged by good IPR rules, is just as important and has a great leverage effect on private investment in the innovation sector. EUREKA has demonstrated this over the years, where companies taking part in its projects have delivered jobs and sustained turnover growth, in spite of aggressive competition from elsewhere. But as emerging economies are increasingly becoming the drivers of global growth, EUREKA is now encouraging companies to look beyond European borders.

The core mission of EUREKA is to support European businesses in ensuring the timely launch of the right products onto a rapidly-evolving consumer market. EUREKA does this by offering these businesses administratively-light procedures and access to national and EU funding through a support network of national funding bodies operating across Europe. EUREKA national project coordinators are best placed to advise innovating businesses, thanks to their understanding of the cultural context and of course the language of their home country. This ‘multi-local’ approach explains why, in the context of intellectual property rules, EUREKA has always been a strong supporter of a coherent European solution.

In the new multipolar innovation landscape, EUREKA has chosen to open itself up to the world, to offer European businesses the best opportunities in terms of market, investment and collaboration, granting them the best chances in the global innovation race. In the field of intellectual property, this is exemplified by the great achievements of EUREKA and Korean authorities to allow South Korea a fair and balanced role as the first Asian country associated to the EUREKA network. Korea was soon joined by Canada and such associations are opening the way to a future cooperation with other countries – South Africa being the first candidate this year.

About the Author

Pedro de Sampaio Nunes is from February 2013, the new Head of the EUREKA Secretariat. 

He has an extensive international experience and keen interest in international collaboration on matters of Science and Technology, mainly in its industrial application.

Pedro de Sampaio Nunes, a civil engineer, was previously Portuguese Secretary of State for Science and Innovation, a Director at the European Commission, responsible for several R&D programmes focussed on energy and information technology and deputy Director-General for the Secretariat for Portugal’s accession to the EU.

Pedro de Sampaio Nunes is Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of Portugal. 

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