Robert Madelin: Former European Commission innovation adviser re-affirms his association with DPIR

Robert Madelin will continue as Visiting Fellow of DPIR’s Cyber Studies Programme and expert adviser on innovation policy… and digs into his more distant professional past to re-think trade policy post-Brexit.

Robert, a Visiting Fellow for DPIR’s Cyber studies Programme since 2015, was for five years Director General of the European Commission’s DG Connect, and took forward Europe’s ICT research and development. During his time with the Cyber Studies programme he took forward the implications of digital transformation into a wider programme for innovation, and is involved in a major cybersecurity event planned by the Cyber Studies Programme for late spring 2017.

Earlier this year, Robert rounded off a four-decade career in British and European public service with the publication of a report commissioned by President Juncker. Available as a free e-book, ‘Opportunity now: Europe’s mission to innovate’is influencing current debate on the second-half shape of current research and innovation strategy, the continental analysis of what makes an entrepreneurial university and the likely future involvement of UK research and innovation ecosystems in their broader European networks beyond the looming Brexit negotiation.

In advising on innovation Madelin aimed to bring fresh thinking to the way in which the EU develops and implements innovation policy. Europe has for centuries been a source for world leading inventions and for technological, conceptual and political breakthroughs; whether Europe continues its innovation, Madelin argues, is a question of principle and political intent. His report explains the role of innovation in driving productivity, jobs, social inclusion and sustainability and he makes a case to support skills, investment and finance capacity for what he describes as a ‘complex innovation system’.

Universities are a key part of the ‘complex innovation system’. He sees them as “entrepreneurial ecosystems” in which academics are rewarded for entrepreneurial endeavour and as places where cross-disciplinary research and open meetings, including practitioners dealing with ‘real-world’ problems, take place. For Madelin, academic institutions are key to stimulating a broader research environment; research, he argues is a central driver for the EU’s policy priorities and for solving societal challenges.  As such, budgets for research should be protected, but wider public support for research spending is not only a priority but must be included within approaches to innovation.

Robert Madelin has been discussing the ways Oxford University and other universities can be innovative in their organisational structures and programmes and in setting out interpretations of societal need. The ‘challenge based university’ would in his view, be open, intra-institutional and collaborative. He shows how research funding, including major current funding schemes at the EU level, can help drive innovation across Europe.

Robert Madelin will continue as a Visiting Fellow in the Cyber Studies Programme. In advising on innovation Madelin sets out challenges for Universities, for Brexit and for the future of Europe.

Robert is also, going forward to be associate in the Centre for International Studies. There, his past experience as a trade and investment negotiator will bring additional strength to a team that feels already the growing demand for fresh ideas as UK government faces the exhilarating prospect of creating a new policy for post-Brexit global economic interdependence. Will UK needs follow seamlessly from the legacy of the World Trade Organisation, and its network of bilateral or plurilateral as well as multilateral commitments and rules? What scope is there, especially in the upcoming US presidential mandate, for new initiatives on 21st century challenges such as data flow, cybersecurity and competition regulation in an increasingly diverse and multi-player world economy? Expect a lot of debate once talks get underway in the spring, with not only the UK and the EU27 taking an interest, but also the rest of the world.

Cyber Studies Programme

Visiting Fellow Robert Madelin