The European Union is wasting billions by investing in new research projects which have already been done by other European scientists, Roland Strauss of Knowledge4Innovation told EURACTIV in an interview. Improved communication between research institutes and better use of existing patents could lead to sizeable savings, he said.
Strauss suggested a European database for exchanging information on research projects would help eliminate paying for the same research to be carried out twice.
“One can see a duplication of efforts in many instances throughout the 27 member states. Billions of euros could be saved if knowledge that is already available was not created a second or third time.”
“Patent offices also have databases that are accessible and it could make sense to have a database for research results for Europe,” he said.
Strauss said efficient use of published patents will help smaller companies to avoid unnecessary spending and bring products to market more quickly.
He also advocates a streamlined community patent system to help reduce costs and administrative burdens on SMEs.
“There are two opportunities here: one is to use existing information that can come from patent offices, from sleeping patterns and, on the other side, better communication among research actors themselves.”
“Internationally, enforcement is quite a challenge. For big companies, it’s much easier, but for SMEs, the cost of filing and enforcement – with all the translation costs and the other issues connected to the Community patent – need to be improved.”
To stay ahead of international competitors, Europe must compete for the best researchers available, and this will mean making the EU more attractive to scientists and their families, Strauss explained.
“We are already in a global competition for scientific workforce. I think they will go where they can find the most attractive workplaces, the most attractive environment. They will go where their families can live and their kids can go to school,” he said.