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A Summary of the Portuguese Eureka Chairmanship
Marking one year of the Portuguese Eureka Chairmanship, the Global Innovation Summit 2022 brought together political leaders, researchers and companies worldwide to discuss a sustainable future for the planet. The theme for the event was the Atlantic Ocean, paving the way for a distinct focus on the preservation of oceans and how space science can have a key role in the matter, as well as strategy and policy making for a more sustainable future. This event was the culmination of months of hard work by the Portuguese Chairmanship, with the aid of the Eureka Secretariat and Cascais City Hall, which, in the end, counted with around 90 countries, 140 speakers and over 1700 registrations. We would like to thank everyone who participated, as a speaker, a moderator, an attendee, for contributing to the success of the Global Innovation Summit 2022 and for joining us in the path towards the creation of a sustainable Atlantic.
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It is essential to invest in knowledge about Oceans and Space and develop new policies that promote sustainability. These are the conclusions of GIS 2022
Companies from 90 countries, around 150 speakers and more than 1700 people registered to attend the sessions: in the aftermath of the Global Innovation Summit 2022, which took place in Estoril, it is clear that the Portuguese chairmanship of the Eureka network has allowed to cement the potential of this which is the largest intergovernmental network dedicated to cooperation and funding for innovation projects
Among the various sessions and debates that took place during the GIS 2022 (22 and 23 June) the various areas, that have been driven through innovation projects that result from collaboration between several countries, through the Eureka network were highlighted. The preservation of oceans, the potential of space science and the reformulation of policies for a more sustainable future were some of the most prominent themes throughout the event. Here are some of the conclusions:
FacePrint wins “Best Portuguese Eureka Project” award
On the first day of the event, José Manuel Mendonça, Chairman of the Board of INESC TEC, took the main stage to present the awards to the best innovation projects being developed throughout the countries that make up the network. The projects involve innovations for areas ranging from health to sustainability.
URoboptics’ Faceprint was considered the “Best Portuguese Eureka Project”. This project promotes low-cost 3D printing of prosthetics. In the category “Best Product and Service Innovation” the winner was NDI Canada. The Spear project, to be developed in Germany, with the collaboration of 4 other European countries won the category “Best Sustainability and Innovation”. In the category “Best Thematic Innovation (space-ocean-earth observation systems)” the Quantum SG project of South Korea was distinguished. Finally, Canada’s SeeO2 project won the “Best Women in Leadership” category.
Protecting ocean biodiversity
With the world going through a turbulent and disruptive period, the role of entrepreneurship in inclusive and sustainable development, established in the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 Agenda, has become even more relevant. Based on this premise, Pedro Conceição, Director and Lead Author of the United Nations Development Programme’s 2020 Human Development Report, stressed during the panel “The role of entrepreneurship in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”, moderated by Emir Sirage (AIR Centre), the major challenges the planet faces and highlighted the importance of the ODC for a more sustainable world and discussed new threats to human security in this age of the Anthropocene, also remembering that entrepreneurs have a fundamental role to balance profit, sustainability and greater solidarity.
In the same debate, Guillermo Trotti, Co-Founder and President of EarthDNA, a non-profit organization founded by leaders in aerospace and design, focusing on sustainability, revealed an inspiring perspective on the importance of the climate challenges of the century and how the new generations are key to a commitment to solving these challenges and also, to use available technologies, from combined space techniques, AI-related systems and methodologies and machine learning to a global sustainability revolution, “putting earth first.”
During the “Spotlight Canada” session, Iain Stewart, Eureka Canada High Level Representative and member of the National Research Council of Canada, recalled the projects that the country has implemented, with the collaboration of the Eureka network, with regard to the preservation of Oceans.” Innovation projects developed in Canada aim to increase connectivity, preserve and develop solutions for aquatic life,” he said. “Canada has a coastline of about 250,000 km, involving three oceans, and a history linked to the sea.” In this regard, “conservation projects in the maritime area and biodiversity have been a commitment of the Canadian government and, with the participation of the Eureka network, we are interconnecting countries, universities and companies from various countries to develop innovative solutions to problems related to the sea coast,” he noted.
Within the framework of the session “Dynamization of the SEA Clusters of the State of Rio de Janeiro (RJ) – A Blue Economy Strategy” was recalled the Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration between the Eureka network and Rio de Janeiro. Dulce Ângela Arouca Procópio de Carvalho, Advisor to the Administration Federation of Commerce of the State of Rio de Janeiro (FECOMERCIO), referred to the importance of protecting the sea to ensure food for the growing world population, “since in the future, soils will not be enough to guarantee food for all people.”
In the session “Climate Change and the Threat to Ocean Industries“, Rita Sousa, Partner of Faber Ocean/Climate Tech, recalled that “scientific and technological development with resources from the ocean has resulted in applications for a wide array of areas, such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals or food”.
Still on the theme of the oceans, Joana Balsemão, Councillor in the Municipality of Cascais, where she is responsible for environmental policies, decarbonization and citizenship and participation, highlighted during the session “Building a Network of Sustainable Coastal Cities – Challenges and Initiatives” that the GDP of the Municipality of Cascais associated with the sea activities “has been growing in recent years”, stressing the importance of decentralisation of power for this dynamic. “Local governments bring greater agility in decision-making, allow bureaucracy to be circumvented and have greater familiarity and knowledge of local conditions and population.” She also recalled that climate change represents an “opportunity to upgrade infrastructures.”
In the same panel, Ana Larronda, of the Subsecretariat of Water Resources and Sustainability and Secretary of state of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) for the Environment and Sustainability, said that “one of the biggest problems that this area encounters is governance and the creation of an international network to generate more knowledge”. Addressing climate changes, the official also noted the need to invest in “a greater awareness of Rio de Janeiro’s institutions for climate change”, and in this regard, “education is the key to solving problems related to the sea coast and pollution, for example”.
“We have better maps of Mars than from the bottom of the oceans”
In addition to the work carried out for the preservation of oceans, aerospace collaborations were also featured in GIS 2022. In the session “The Making of a New Space Economy – Collaborative Astropolitics“, Ricardo Conde, President of the Portuguese Space Agency stressed that “the militarization of Space can lead humanity along paths that we do not want to follow”, focusing on the importance of investing in the “ability to collect and use the data collected from space” – which can be “one of the greatest strengths” for a more sustainable future. “We have so much information in space and collaboration between multiple partners is essential to harness this potential with diversity,” he concluded.
Keynote Speaker Dava Newman, Director at Media Lab, Apollo Professor of Astronautics and Aeronautics, MIT, emphasized during the “Space and AI: Sustainable Space for a Sustainable Earth” session that the data we collect from Space allows us to “anticipate and predict how we can act in relation to floods, fires and other natural disasters that will be increasingly frequent, due to climate change.” In a session in which she hinted at how the sound of sea waves, among others, is heard from Mars, the person in charge also stressed the importance of investing in “digital mental health” as “we move towards greater brain integration between man and machine”.
In the debate “The Future is Ocean“, Ricardo Serrão Santos, Principal Scientist and Professor at the University of the Azores and former Minister of the Sea of the Portuguese Government, drew attention to the fact that there are currently, “literally, better maps of Mars than of the bottom of the sea”, insisting on the importance of investing in digital solutions to extract more information about the ocean floor. “We have a lot of CO2 at the bottom of the oceans, for example. The potential to solve problems that we face today – and that will worsen in the future – is enormous,” he stated.
“Political and fiscal systems do not benefit sustainable innovations”
The legislative change was also one of the topics that most marked the debates throughout GIS 2022. In this regard, during the session “Ending the Waste Age“, Lindsey Wuisan, founder of Circular Economy Portugal, highlighted the need to “design more sustainable business centers, not just thinking about productivity” and “rethinking the tax system”, in order to “reduce taxes on labor and increase on resources”. Wuisan also acknowledged that “the tax and political systems of modern societies are “unfriendly to the proliferation of sustainable innovations”, since these are, “often, local and unscalable – which is not attractive to investors”. She also criticized: “the idea of going beyond GDP to measure growth and prosperity is not yet accepted by our governments.”
In one of the last sessions of the event, “Fireside chat: Creative Industries driving sustainable innovation forward: the case of fashion“, Lisa Lang, EU Affairs Director and Policy Orchestrator encouraged the lobbying of associations and companies to make policies more favorable for the fashion industry – one of the most polluting in the world – to reinvent itself, for the sake of sustainability. Lisa Lang referred to the “Made in Europe” movement, which aims to “bring clothing production back to Europe after it has been moved over the past few decades to other countries” where labour is cheaper. “Mass production was once the factor that mattered most, but today the ecological footprint is at the heart of decisions and the fashion industry should show that concern. We therefore need policies that encourage this path,” she concludes.
INNOWWIDE Program will focus on Africa
At the GIS 2022, specifically during the Ministerial Meeting (meeting that brought together Ministers, Secretaries of State and Ambassadors of the countries that make up the Eureka network), a Memorandum of Understanding was signed determining the investment of 2 billion euros in the so-called “Partnership on Innovative SME within the European Union’s Horizon Europe Framework for Research and Innovation”. The investment, carried out by 37 countries, the European Commission and industry, will allow the financing of projects through the Eurostars and INNOWWIDE programmes and research, development and innovation activities, as well as the exploitation of markets.
During the global meeting, it was clear that, in a first round, the INNOWWIDE pogram will mainly seek to invest in African SME projects. In this sense, Sara Medina, member of the board of directors of the Portuguese Society of Innovation (SPI),, stressed during the session “Accelerating Eureka Cooperation with Africa through INNOWWIDE Evolution” that this program will seek to “identify how European companies can introduce their projects in underdeveloped countries, exploring, in collaboration with local companies, the conditions of the various regions”.
Toto Matshediso, Deputy Director, Strategic Partnership and Eureka National Project Coordinator (NPC) for South Africa, noted during the same session that “South Africa is the only Associated African country of the Eureka network. Their participation began in 2014 and since then there has been a lot of progress.” In addition to funding, “the INNOWWIDE program has provided human and technical development, being a great vehicle for innovation in the country,” he said.
Eureka expands panregional potential with the Portuguese chairmanship
“Eureka is no longer a group of European countries with some friends from outside. Eureka is, from now on, a global platform”, concluded Miguel Bello, Chairperson and CEO of the Portuguese Chairmanship of the Eureka network and the AIR Centre, at the closing session of the GIS 2022, which was also marked by the approval of the agreement amending the rules of the Eureka network in order to allow the entry of countries outside Europe, as full members. In this sense, Canada and South Korea, which have been partners of the Eureka network for the past decade, were the first countries to benefit from the new agreement, which marks a turning point for the Eureka network.
South Korea was the first country to join the Eureka network as a partner, more than ten years ago, and has since developed around 70 innovation projects within the network. Canada joined the network in 2012 and has been a strong ally in the implementation of green technology projects, focusing primarily on the oceans.
Also at the closing session, Joana Mendonça, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Innovation Agency (ANI), congratulated the creation of a fund for Ukrainian startups, as well as the workshops held over the two days of the event and the “more than 30 sessions dedicated to the transfer of knowledge from institutions to companies, support for startups and how to put technology at the service of the labor market.” Closing her speech, Joana Mendonça also recalled one of the conclusions that marked GIS 2022: “we can only go to Mars with diversity and inclusion and the Eureka network represents that”.
For her part, Elvira Fortunato, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education found that “companies and managers from more than 90 countries” were represented in GIS 2022, which demonstrates that “Eureka is a reference inside and outside Europe”. The minister also said that the signed Memorandum of Understanding “will strengthen cooperation in four important areas: European small and medium-sized innovation enterprises, global cooperation in research and innovation, within the framework of the European Research Area and the European Innovation Agenda”. Elvira Fortunato concluded by acknowledging that the Eureka network “meets all the conditions to be a leading pan-European platform of an international nature, providing market-oriented research and innovation activities and projects”.
Recognizing all the added value that the Portuguese chairmanship allowed to generate for Eureka, the 45 countries belonging to the network approved the extension of the Portuguese chairmanship until the end of the year. Portugal is one of the members who founded the Eureka network in 1985, through an agreement with the European Commission, this being the third time it has taken over the presidency. Since its inception, the Eureka network has supported with €40 billion, 50,000 small and medium-sized enterprises, higher education institutions and research centres, totaling 7,000 research and development projects.
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