It is my pleasure to open this conference today, a forum dedicated to innovation. Because innovation is central to Europe's future.
We find ourselves in a time of economic crisis, a time of constant uncertainty. Instability arising from the financial and the sovereign debt crisis has a very real impact on the citizens of Europe. On their jobs, on their wealth, on their opportunities.
In the developed world, it is innovation that drives productivity. It is innovation that finds new, more efficient ways to do things. And it is innovation that can now transform our economy.
Already, new information and communication technologies drive half of our productivity growth. But if we are going to get out of this crisis, we need to innovate everywhere.
First, we need to commit to research and development for innovation. It is not enough just to create innovative technologies. We must also innovate in the uses for existing technology. And innovate in the business models to bring them to market.
Even in times of stretched budgets, public and private, we must remember that this investment, this dedication to research, will pay us back many times in the years to come, economically and socially.
Second, I am well aware that we – we politicians - need to innovate too. We need to establish a framework in which new technologies can thrive. The old ways of thinking won't do any more.
I want us to create, here in Europe, a vibrant and thriving digital single market. A market where you can access 500 million consumers without having to deal with 27 rule-books. A enterprise-friendly market, where we can make most use of European creativity and innovation. A market not of barriers, but of opportunity.
Third, and most of all, if we really want innovation to transform Europe, we need to innovate in our mindset. Because innovation doesn't come from central commands from Brussels – it comes from Europe's innovators, people who are making a difference. We need those people – people like you - to know you should not be afraid to take risks. To know that failure is an event, not a person. To know that it doesn't matter if you try out something new and it doesn't work: you learn from the experience, and just go on trying something else.
With these ingredients, and the amazing opportunities offered by new technology, I am convinced we can innovate our way out of the crisis.
I wish you the best of luck with your discussions – and the best of luck innovating for Europe.