Salole says there is evidence to suggest that the EU will miss its Lisbon Strategy target of investing 3% of its GDP in R&D by 2010. Moreover, the EU will be in third place globally behind the US and Japan in annual R&D spending, he adds.
He calls on Europe to promote R&D investment through the creation of "an integrated market for innovation," as Europe's most "vulnerable gap is our failure to effectively capture, share and retain knowledge".
Salole claims the EU's disjointed patents arrangement leaves it at a competitive disadvantage and represents a "missed opportunity" considering Europe's top-class research institutes. Despite the rise in patent applications, the European Patent Office has granted fewer patents due to its policy of quality over quantity, he says. He argues that this is causing a "Europe-America brain drain" as many researchers are finding it hard to move between EU countries.
"If the EU wants to meet its 3% target," he argues, it must "discover how to mobilise policy actors at all levels" to create the knowledge-based economy it wants.
The recently-launched European Forum on Philanthropy and Research Funding is among recent initiatives to boost EU cooperation on research, he says. This is an important initiative as it increases the potential of philanthropic funding in the European Research Area and emphasises collaboration.
He suggests that European universities are central to building the European Research Area, but are finding it hard "to keep up with a rapidly changing international environment". Additionally, he says funding conditions imposed by national public authorities make it hard for them to secure financial support. Therefore he believes that philanthropic organisations and foundations will have to step up and become a "significant source of university research funding".
Because of foundations' autonomy, alertness and flexibility, they are very well-placed to make an impact in the research field, he says. In projects where public authorities would normally shy away, foundations can take risks by supporting pilot experiments, he argues. Additionally, he explains that private foundations do not need to wait for political consensus for funding on a project.
He believes that "Europe's foundations can nurture new developments, encourage front-runners in institutional reform and devise creative models to replace outdated institutional practices".
However, he warns that the long-term benefits of these projects will be inhibited unless they are backed up with government money. He warns: "EU please note: European foundations are showing increased interest in setting up public-private partnerships to consolidate their work."
Legal barriers are also holding back Europe's foundations, according to Salole. "Completion of the EU's internal market, its competition rules and reviews of state aid should not impede foundations from achieving the Lisbon objectives," he argues.
He concludes by saying that initiatives such as the European Forum on Philanthropy and Research Funding show that the R&D sector wants to make the most of its capabilities.