EU Innovation Union
Major emphasis on user-centred design, open innovation and social innovation in new EU innovation strategy

On 6 October 2010, the European Commission adopted the “Innovation Union“, a strategic approach to innovation, which is to become a main tool to reach the Europe 2020 targets that will underpin the smart, sustainable and inclusive growth the Europe 2020 strategy is aiming for:

  • Employment: 75% of the 20-64 year-olds to be employed
  • 3% of the EU’s GDP (public and private combined) to be invested in R&D/innovation
  • Climate change / energy: greenhouse gas emissions 20% lower than 1990, 20% of energy from renewables, and 20% increase in energy efficiency
  • Education: Reducing school drop-out rates below 10%, and at least 40% of 30-34–year-olds completing third level education
  • At least 20 million fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion

The Innovation Union will focus Europe’s efforts on tackling major societal challenges, such as climate change, energy and food security, health and an ageing population.

Design and creativity have major prominence in the new EU innovation strategy, with a particular emphasis on (user-centred) design, open and co-creative innovation, and social/public sector innovation, as described in detail in the European Commission Communication and Rationale for Action, published on 6 October last year.

In other words, European innovation policy is moving beyond a technology-only approach and becoming more holistic, by embracing design, openness and broad social issues.

It will take some time for this new focus to spread to local, regional and national governmental institutions across Europe, who still often identify innovation with technological innovation.

To help speed up this process, Experientia, the international user-experience design consultancy based in Torino, Italy, has gone through the European Commission documents in detail, and a 5-page backgrounder highlights those sections that are of major relevance for design companies, design support organisations and therefore also industry organisations.

The text in the backgrounder is mainly excerpted from the Communication, and sometimes expanded with text from the Rationale for Action or from the Innovation Union website.

Please feel free to use this backgrounder to lobby for a more holistic innovation approach also in your own regional context.

Download backgrounder