The optimists are keen to say that technology will save the day and the EU seems to be singing that particular tune. As a 'bridge to growth and jobs', the EU is placing a large amount of hope and money on the key enabling technologies – known as the KETs. They are forecast to bring economic benefit to Europe worth more than €1000bn by 2015.
Collectively, the 27 countries of the EU have agreed that there are six KETs. They are nanotechnology, micro- and nanoelectronics, industrial biotechnology, photonics, advanced materials and advanced manufacturing systems. These six KETs cut across many different areas of technology and as the potential builders of future industries in Europe, they are attracting lots of R&D spend. So, when seeking R&D funding from the EU, it is advisable to be conversant and connected with the KETs.
One of the issues to address is that while Europe is a top performer in science, and creates lots of research centres, academic-business partnerships and patents, it is pretty poor at turning the science stuff into successful businesses. Thankfully, the EU recognises that the KETs need to be deployed in the market at a global level and they need to allow international partners in to be part of the KET development process.
This intention to encourage collaboration across borders is great news for FDI. It is an opportunity for businesses from the rest of the world to access European talent and scientific know-how. For example, for companies from the emerging economies looking to extend their global footprint into Europe, this could be a fairly low-risk entry point for them. So, it looks as though the KETs could also become a bridge to FDI.
Douglas Clark is director of Location Connections, a site selection and FDI consultancy. E-mail: email@example.com