For those of us following the high-tech sector, the notion of investing in future and emerging technology is such common knowledge and baseline requirement that we forget sometimes the rest of the world may not always think about its importance.
So, it's refreshing and welcoming to hear someone else talk along these lines to a broader group of people and remind them of stuff we already know. Earlier this week, Neelie Kroes, a European Commission vice president responsible for the trading block's digital agenda, took to the stage with exactly that message.
Speaking at the FET Flagships Pilots Final Conference in Brussels, Kroes called on people to have the courage to invest now in ideas that could power our world tomorrow, and to do this in spite of the crisis and financial uncertainty that still shadows the continent. Her full speech can be read here, but below are a few key points:
Today we take so much technology for granted. But imagine where we'd be without the efforts of those who've gone before. Think of where we'd be without the car, or the microchip. Without the technologies themselves, without the transformation they brought to every aspect of our lives, without the amazing new possibilities they enabled. Life would be very different.
And remember that it took many people -- with the vision to think differently and the patience to work tirelessly -- before those ideas could become reality. That is why we need the faith to look ahead to future and emerging technology. We don't always know where that research will lead, and we don't always know what change it might bring. But we do know that maybe, just maybe, it could hold the key to our future lives.
Kroes added that member states asked the EC to set up this kind of flagship pilot program in 2009:
Right from the start, it was clear that the Flagships [would] mean unprecedented collaboration between EU and national programmes. An unprecedented scale of ambition and support over 10 years with a unifying visionary goal. And an unwavering focus on the grand scientific and social challenges, looking at the areas that are high-risk, but high pay-off.
Since May 2011, six preliminary preparatory actions -- or pilots -- were funded for more than 12 months and teams had to create a design, description, and assess the project's scientific feasibility and its potential for success in both technical and financial terms. By the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013, at least two of the pilots will be chosen and launched as full FET Flagship Initiatives in 2013 with $135 million (€110 million) in financial backing. The initiatives include everything from personalized medicine, therapy and disease prevention, management of globally interactive systems, electronics built on entirely new foundations, autonomous smart devices, and machines capable of genuine human interaction.
Given all the depressing talk about the ongoing debt crisis and austerity measures, maybe it is time that the region starts refocusing its collective energy on not only beating the same economic horses dead. A collective growth-oriented vision based on technology development and research could well be one way of the crisis. I guess we'll see how Kroes resonates elsewhere around the continent.
Eldredge - Does seem to be a bit of a double-edge sword, doesn't it? VCs want better chances of success so invest in something that looks more like a sure thing, but start-ups with great ideas will need seed money to test ideas early. Have very much on my mind to follow more closely the VC activity here; maybe it will turn up some interesting news...
Yes, a big project within UK and perhaps the area has started seen opportunities springing up --- ranging from ISVs to OEMs. I have recently ran across similar reports on projects of that type embarking upon in Canada and also Norway, most Norwagian leading universities are partnering with energy & oil/gas operators in potential projects in the area.
I can undersdtand why the VC community would want to invest at a later stage in the development progress - it seems ike that would increae their chances for a successful investment. At the same time, as a general matter, it seems like this apporach would slow down the development process.
@WaleB: very good to know, they are big numbers and maybe one of the biggest project, for now, in the sector; I am quite curious in seeing the results by 2014, looking forward for real results and maybe for cloning the projects in other countries.
A side look at a smart technology - UK government has had a plan in place to commence replacement of gas and electricity meters and deploying smart meters come year 2014, but some energy suppliers have begun deployment in 2012 though. The 53 Millions home meters replacement is estimated at £11.7billion, so also British telecoms and others are bidding for smart metering infrastructure project worth in range of £7billion - £11billion. Read here
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.