People in Science

Elsevier CEO: 4 things we need to do to support innovation in Europe

In his essay for the European Commission, Ron Mobed looks at how Europe can meet new challenges to remain a leading “force for knowledge creation”

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Elsevier CEO Ron MobedWe have reason to be optimistic about Europe's future if we take the right steps to support innovation and knowledge creation.

That's the overarching message of Elsevier Ceo Ron Mobed in his recent essay for the European Commission's Digital Minds for a New Europe series: "Innovation and big data are the keys to unlocking Europe's Economy." He uses the universal "we" to refer to "all participants in Europe's knowledge ecosystem" — from researchers, clinicians and educators to investors, policymakers and corporations

He begins with his perspective at Elsevier: "As an engineer with many years of experience in the commercial world, I have seen the power of innovation to create jobs, transform industries and improve the lives of people. I am now part of a European technology company that lives both at the centre of the scientific community we serve, and at the centre of the world of innovation. A fundamental part of our mission is to help build the interface between scientific research and its implementation for the benefit of society."

After highlighting Europe's reputation as a "force for knowledge creation and the diffusion of innovation" and its long-term contributions to "science, health and human progress," he points out two factors that pose challenges as well as opportunities: rapid technological change and big data.

Today transformation is coming from the expansion of technology-enabled collaborative networks and the explosion in the availability of new sources of data. ... 

Researchers, clinicians, and other decision makers are under enormous and increasing pressure to draw from a wider body of knowledge and use it to produce better outcomes, faster and at lower cost. A large volume of highly complex data sets are of little value without the technology to make it useful or the tools for turning it into meaningful insights and applications. Nor is it of any value if the user cannot rely on its sources or accuracy.

Mobed writes about how companies such as Elsevier, which create "technology-enabled content," can meet these challenges by making knowledge more meaningful to users.

And he suggests four conditions that are needed for "cultivating knowledge creation" in Europe, pointing out that they would require significant collaboration among policymakers, corporations and research institutions:

  1. An excellent, well-supported education system. Many aspects of education in Europe are still planted in the "old world." Europe therefore must continue to embrace new, more adaptive ways of learning and new education technologies. Education needs to develop a culture of risk-taking as well, allowing the cycle of error, learning and success that is fundamental to creation and innovation. 

  2. Sustained investment in basic research, along with the risk associated with making the necessary resource commitments in such a complex and rapidly evolving environment. Researchers and the institutions that support them are under enormous pressure to find and vie for scarce funds, especially for the basic research that drives long-term advances in science, medicine and technology. ... Vigorous funding of research and education is not optional for Europe if it is to remain at the forefront of knowledge and innovation. 

  3. Investment in the technology, tools and infrastructure that enable researchers and content creators. We need to put high-performance computing capacity and analytical tools at the disposal of Europe's researchers. We need to wire Europe's universities and research centres with the technologies to help drive excellence and efficiency. We need to connect universities and businesses with technologies that promote collaboration and ensure that data is interoperable across the value chain of research to implementation. 

  4. Policymakers need to allow a variety of models to emerge and evolve to serve the knowledge sector and not tip the balance one way or another. That way, knowledge creators can have confidence that their accomplishments and contributions will be recognised and they will have an opportunity to earn the rewards from their effort. The market will likely determine what business models will survive or emerge to support both the cultivation of knowledge creators and the application of technology. 

Read the full article.

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Elsevier Connect Author

Alison Bert, DMAAlison Bert (@AlisonBert) is Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier Connect. She joined Elsevier seven years ago from the world of journalism, where she was a business reporter and blogger for The Journal News, a Gannett daily newspaper in New York. In the previous century, she was a classical guitarist on the music faculty of Syracuse University. She holds a doctorate in music from the University of Arizona, was a Fulbright scholar in Spain and performed in the 1986 international master class of Andrés Segovia.

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