Business, industry and academia: closer ties are beneficial for all

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The ongoing digital transformation will have a tremendous impact on industry, business and citizens alike. Therefore, the European Union should actively prepare for a new post-industrial era so that it can seize the opportunities it brings. The closer the cooperation between business, academia and governments, the bigger the benefits will be – concluded the speakers at the seminar "Driving Innovation and Industry in Europe", which took place on 16 June in Cambridge, UK. The participants of the round table discussion attempted to identify the main issues and obstacles that industry and academia face when trying to cooperate more closely.

The European Union is home to world-class scientific research; researchers from all over the world come to Europe to benefit from its border-free network of cooperation and are attracted by the excellent research infrastructure. On the other hand, too many research projects are focused on basic research, and converting research into a commercial success story causes numerous challenges. The EU should step up efforts to boost its research and innovation capacity.

The importance of cooperation between academia and industry is constantly growing as the economy of the future is to be based mainly on effective usage of knowledge and data. Concepts such as Industry 4.0 will stamp its mark on working methods and procedures, production lines, market strategies and above all, the skills and human resources needed to embrace this huge challenge.

"The 4th industrial revolution is happening whether we like it or not. Either we change our way of thinking to benefit from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or the EU will be left behind in a global competitiveness race", said Jacek Krawczyk, President of the Employers' Group.

The seminar was organised by the Employers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee in partnership with the Cambridge Network. The event was complemented by study visits to the innovative Cambridge science parks. Cambridge was chosen as the venue for this event because of the overwhelming presence of high standard research and education; Cambridge is thus a real European – even global centre of excellence.