If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that we're a fan of innovation. That's why we were pleased to see that in his final State of the European Union address ahead of next year's elections, Commission President José Manuel Barroso underlined the need for Europe to lead the global effort in innovation and science.
Weaved into the central themes of growth, unemployment and completing the single market, Barroso's message on innovation was a positive and welcome part of his speech to the European Parliament.
Barroso said: "We are also adapting to a dynamic transformation on a global scale, so we must encourage this innovative dynamism at a European scale. That is why we must also invest more in innovation, in technology and the role of science. I have great faith in science, in the capacity of the human mind and a creative society to solve its problems. The world is changing dramatically. And I believe many of the solutions are going to come, in Europe and outside Europe, from new science studies, from new technologies. And I would like Europe to be leading that effort globally. This is why we - Parliament and Commission - have made such a priority of Horizon 2020 in the discussions on the EU budget."
We spoke earlier in the week about the importance of supportive environments for investment in innovation to continue, so we welcome the importance Barroso put on this key driver of growth.
Yet there is clearly still work to be done. For the broader European project to succeed in creating 'European scale' innovation and research, Barroso underlined the need for everyone to support the European budget (also known as the Multi-annual Financial Framework- MFF). MFF is a key enabler of the new framework programme for research, Horizon 2020. Horizon 2020 looks set to promote Europe as a research and innovation hub and - with investment in skills and education a main feature of the programme - to make concrete progress in tackling unemployment.
Of course, healthcare is already doing its bit for employment. Demand for labour in healthcare is increasing annually by 2%, according to the European Commission's Directorate for Employment. Advances in technology and treatments, and greater patient expectation for higher quality services, including preventative care, were listed as some of the reasons for this growth.
However, outside the promise of innovation for growth and jobs, let alone healthcare, many MEPs raised concerns in their questions to Barroso following the speech. Many voiced concern that equality, social cohesion and health standards are slipping despite, or perhaps because of, the efforts to exit the economic crisis.
With so many potential benefits for Europe and Europeans, now is a pivotal time for all European forces to join together to support Horizon 2020 and embrace the call for investment and growth with science and innovation at the centre.
More on Lilly and Innovation from Lilly Pad EU