Saturday, October 21, 2006

Kick Off for Innovation Journalism in the Balkan Region

ljubljana 1
Originally uploaded by Innovation Journalism.

The “First European Workshop on Innovation Journalism in Ljubljana” took place in Ljubljana, October 19, 2006. It was organized by VIBACOM d.o.o. in cooperation with TIA, University of Ljubljana and a bunch of sponsors. There were 62 registered participants from seven countries, including all major Slovenian media houses.
About the workshop

Workshop blog

The Slovenian innovation journalism initiative

We have a severe problem! This calls for an immediate meeting!

Velenje 1
Originally uploaded by Innovation Journalism.

I have been attending the workshop SLO-INNO-TECH (National Initiative for Improvement of Slovenian Innovation Competitiveness) in Velenje organized by TIA – Public Agency for Technology of the Republic of Slovenia.

The purpose was to find new effective solutions for improvement of the Slovenian innovation system, by establishing a dialogue between decision-makers and representatives of the key actors of the Slovene innovation system (economy, government institutions, research institutions and media).

Lars Eklund from VINNOVA and I was invited as process leaders. We have done this before with TIA in June. (Some photos from that event)

The conclusions were the same this time, as last time. What became very apparent was that all the participants quickly agreed on the problems, but no one were interested in taking the responsibility and do things. Everybody pointed to each other.

Slovenia already has a regional innovation strategy. But most of the participants (including TIA) was not aware of the EU project SLORITTS “Regional Innovation and Technology Transfer Strategies for Slovenia”.

There are very similar conclusions in the EU project’s SWOT analysis compare to the workshop. There are a lot of prominent names in the brochure, but who is responsible for acting? The SLORITTS project is from April 2004. Two and a half years old. Nothing has happened since then.

The problem is not lack of ideas – the problem is lack of action. And no one in Slovenia feel responsible.

Monday, October 16, 2006

“We are not against growth. We only dislike changes”

The The Competitiveness Institute TCI ninth annual international convention on competitiveness, cluster initiatives and innovation system development is over. In in Lyon this time.

A record number of participants were there. 437 attendees from 62 countries at the membership only sessions and 710 more at the open sessions. Five official foreign official delegations were there, and more than ten government officials showed up.

I noted a few things.

Countries that have not traditionally relied on domestic research and development, the Balkans and Pakistan, are now turning their economy to cluster development and innovation systems policy as a main driver for high-tech innovation.

I was very impressed by the speech by Omar Ayub Khan, Pakistan Minister of State for Finance. Listening to European politicians or industrial leaders is just ridiculous in comparison.
The traditional European politicians does not have a clue what all this innovation systems and cluster development are all about. But talk a lot, and I mean a lot, about how active they are in the field. But very few understand what they are doing or what they should do.

And they are in majority. Some statistics on the gender of the speakers at Clusters2006 in Lyon:

Opening day
males 92,0%
females 8,0%
males 88,9%
females 11,1%

The only females in the figures were from France – Natural as the convent took place in Lyon and the majority of the speakers were from France – and from Slovenia. There were Elisabeth Waelbroeck-Rocha BIPE, Véronique Adnet, and Catherine Larrieu from France. And Marta Svetina, General-Director of Slovenian Technology Agency TIA, and Tea Petrin, former Minister of Finance and current Slovenian Ambassador in Holland.

These girls understand. None of the male European politicians got it right. None.

This is the core of the decreasing European competitiveness problem; Those in power dislike changes. And they happened to be Caucasian males 60+. From the old Europe.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Europe Not Competitive Until Generation Shift

Pierre Vigier from the DG Enterprise at the European Commission, responsibility on strategic aspects of innovation policy and on the interface between Research and Industry, notably on technology platforms.

I'm at the TCI conference on competitiveness, cluster initiatives and innovation system development in Lyon. It is the largest in TCI history. Professor Michael Enright, a leading expert on international competitiveness and international strategy, had a brilliant presentation about turning the “Asian threat” to an “Asian possibility”. The problem, he said, was the old traditional notion about protective import taxes and trade barriers would do the trick.

The problem is that these measures are useless. His opinion, and most of the other 430 participants opinion, is that Europe needs a change of attitude to be competitive.

After him spoke Pierre Vigier from the DG Enterprise at the European Commission. He really symbolized the problem. His ten minutes speech turned to almost an hour. And he said nothing. Or rather, he didn’t listen to what Michael Enright said and didn’t pay attention to what the audience interest, or did care anything about that he totally messed up the schedule.

These old politicians are like crocodiles: no ears, all mouth. It is obvious that they must retire or die before Europe can become competitive again.