Thursday, 31 March 2016

RISE - Research, Innovation and Science Policy Experts

The European Commission set up the "Research, Innovation, and Science Policy Experts" (RISE) high level group (HLG) in June 2014, and renewed its mandate and membership in January 2016. The Innovation Union initiative , the Europe 2020 strategy (read also A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth PDF icon) and the Innovation Union flagship initiative (  PDF icon 202 KB ), provide the policy rationale for RISE. The Horizon 2020, 2014-2015 Work Programme PDF icon and 2016-2017 Work Programme PDF icon provide its financing base.

RISE gives direct strategic support to the European Commissioner for research, innovation, and science, Carlos Moedas, and to the European Commission. It focuses on how to best use EU research, innovation, and science policy to address the European growth model and to create the conditions for a different type of growth, a growth that is smart, sustainable, and socially inclusive for the EU and associated countries within a globalized world.

In its new setup, RISE is structured along the three policy priorities of EU Research and Innovation –Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World - with additional reflection on economic impact building on Open Knowledge Markets. This is why the group is divided into sub-groups, delivering on specific topics.

The Open Innovation advisory group of RISE is working in particular on the concept for European Innovation Council, on use of financial instruments for innovation support and on the interplay between regulation and innovation.

The Open Science advisory group works on how to create a culture for OS to flourish, by removing barriers and promoting incentives in research funding, career advancement and publishing, by embedding Open Access, Open Data and Research Integrity.

The Open to the World advisory group works on science diplomacy and international cooperation for global challenges and contributes to deepening of the international dimension across R&I policies.

Finally, the Open Knowledge Markets advisory group works on economic impact of R&I, including new concepts and measuring of innovation and the regulatory framework for research and innovation.

Improving access to finance for Romanian SMEs: EU adopts investment package worth €100 million

The European Commission adopted on March 29, 2016 the "SME Initiative" Operational Programme for Romanian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) 2014-2020, worth €100 million. The value of the investment provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the form of guarantees is expected to quadruple to €400 million, thanks to the leverage effect of private investment in SME loans.

The SME Initiative for Romania is the fifth of its kind to be adopted for 2014-2020, encouraging Member States to make use of this joint initiative, developed by the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group to boost access to finance for Europe's cash-strapped small businesses.

European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: "Today Romania joined the group of Member States that want to improve the business environment for SMEs, by pledging 100 million of EU Regional Fund to help finance the small and medium enterprises. In a country where SMEs represent over 99% of the total number of enterprises and face serious needs of external financing, this programme supports them in order to access loan products in better conditions. This Initiative will also enable SMEs to be more innovative and competitive and to grow on regional, national and international markets."

Vasile Dîncu, Romania's Minister of Regional Policy and Public Administration added:

"Targeting one of the critical difficulties for Romanian SMEs – the access to financing and providing a leverage of 4, this innovative tool that is called the SMEs Initiative is intended to be a major booster for competitiveness. This supports SMEs to succeed on the market in order to overcome the first stages of their life-cycles, allowing them to grow – both numerically, but also as dimension and value and, by doing so, to be able to compete internationally. Providing a risk-sharing approach, the SMEs Initiative creates a win-win framework both for SMEs - as loans demand financial intermediaries – and on the loans' supply side, thus supporting the whole business environment. "

The ESFRI Roadmap 2016

The ESFRI Roadmap 2016 identifies the new Research Infrastructures (RI) of pan-European interest corresponding to the long term needs of the European research communities, covering all scientific areas, regardless of possible location.
The 2016 Roadmap consists of 21 ESFRI Projects with a high degree of maturity - including 6 new Projects - and 29 ESFRI Landmarks - RIs that reached the implementation phase by the end of 2015.

The ESFRI Roadmap 2016 was launched on 10 March 2016, in Amsterdam. The event was organized under the Dutch Presidency by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in close cooperation with ESFRI, the European Commission and the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Discussions focussed on strategic roadmapping, long-term sustainability and the socio-economic impact of research infrastructures.

Simpler procedures, lower costs and more legal protection: EU trade mark reforms

From today, new rules governing trade marks in the EU take effect that will improve conditions for businesses to innovate and to benefit from more effective trade mark protection against counterfeits, including non-authentic goods in transit through the EU's territory.

The reforms are also aimed at making trade mark registration systems throughout the EU more accessible and efficient for businesses in terms of lower costs and complexity, increased speed, greater predictability and legal certainty.

What are trade marks?

Trade marks or 'brands' are signs used to distinguish the goods and services of one company from those of another. They take the form of words, logos, devices or other distinctive features. Trade marks not only identify the origin of goods and services, but also guarantee consistent quality, as well as being a basis for publicity and advertising.

A trade mark can become one of a company's most important assets. It is the mark through which a business can attract and retain customer loyalty, and create value and growth.

Cheaper and faster registration

Trade marks can be registered either at national level, at the industrial property offices of EU countries, or at EU level as an EU trade mark. A new framework of cooperation between the EU and national registry offices will ensure greater convergence of practices and standards.

The registration process is also being streamlined and harmonised across all EU Member States in order to remove burdensome procedures, making it both cheaper and faster.

Reduced renewal fees and increased legal certainty

Renewal fees for EU trade marks will be cut by up to 37%, and trade mark owners, with the assistance of customs authorities, will be given the authority to seize counterfeit goods transiting through the EU. This will also safeguard the public against unlawful and potentially harmful goods.

Changes to the legislation governing trade marks (for example, through harmonised rules on the designation of goods and services for which trade mark protection is granted) will increase legal certainty and clarity for businesses looking to register and enforce their trade mark rights in Europe.

The convergence of trade mark practices and processes throughout the EU will also create a more robust and streamlined system fit for the digital age.

A new EU Intellectual Property Office

The EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) will replace the former Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) located in Alicante, Spain, and the EU trade mark will be the new name for the Community Trade Mark.

The reforms will also modernize the definition of trade marks to make it easier to register special signs that cannot be represented graphically (such as sounds) since their representation will be accepted in any appropriate form using generally available technology (e.g. electronic file format).

Economic impact of trade mark-intensive industries

According to a joint study by the OHIM and the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2013, almost 21% of all jobs in the EU (around 45.5 million Europeans) during the 2008 to 2010 period were created by trade mark-intensive industries. Over the same period, trade mark industries are shown to have generated almost 34% of total economic activity (GDP) in the EU, worth €4.16 trillion.