The plan, due to be published in the autumn, will have a holistic definition at its core, according to the Commissioner, who says social innovation, industrial policy, design, and a new method for measuring the impact of R&D spending will be part of the strategy.
Work on earlier drafts of the document began in 2009 at the EU executive's enterprise wing but this has been broadened considerably thanks to input from commissioners responsible for education, regional policy, internal market and others.
"I was astonished to see when I arrived at the Commission that we were still working in silos, whereas in the majority of member states they don't work that way any more," said Geoghegan-Quinn, adding that Commission President José Manuel Barroso had made it clear to the new commissioner that they must take a more "cross-cutting" approach.
"The first two people who sat down after that were myself and [Industry Commissioner] Antonio Tajani, and he said 'Look, I've been dealing with an innovation plan, but only from the perspective of industry – now I can no longer just deal with it just in that way, so we're going to have to work together'. Then suddenly other commissioners started coming in – like [Internal Market Commissioner] Michel Barnier – and saying they had an interest in important parts of this policy area, such as intellectual property. And so this commissioners group [on innovation] came together to look at this in a more holistic way," Geoghegan-Quinn said.
The inclusion of an "innovation indicator," devised by the Commission and a panel of external experts, was born out of controversy over the 3% R&D spending target included in the Europe 2020 strategy.
But despite resistance to research goals and naked opposition to poverty and education targets from EU leaders, the innovation commissioner believes member states are subscribing to the 2020 blueprint.
"I think it is being embraced. Because there's a realisation that every country has its own economic difficulties and none can deal with it alone. I think the Greek situation has proven that it's the euro zone that's under attack. It's not just Greece that's under attack. We all have to work together," said Geoghegan-Quinn.
While most countries failed to meet the 3% target that featured in the previous ten-year growth strategy, the commissioner says this time will be different.
"This time, our services are working with each different member state to define within their circumstances, based on where they are [and] what the actual target should be in their case," she said.
This will mean individual targets for each member state and a tailored roadmap on how to ratchet up R&D investment from public and private sources.
"This time we're actively engaged. You'll see in the innovation plan that we'll have a diagnostic tool which helps us make a diagnosis and provide a critical path. It won't be business as before," Geoghegan-Quinn said.
The commissioner is also committed to reaching out to the public. She wants to see greater efforts to engage citizens on scientific matters and to explain how Europe's multi-billion euro research budget is spent.