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New EU Innovation Agenda: Coimbra Group meets Silicon Valley R&I actors

29 March 2023

Coimbra Group universities were represented at the First Silicon Valley European Innovation Days that were held on 21-22 March in San Francisco, California. The Chair of the Coimbra Group Executive Board, Ludovic Thilly, was part of the high-level delegation of entrepreneurs, investors, leaders of regional authorities, Members of the European Parliament and other innovation actors, led by EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel to bring the European innovation ecosystem to the Silicon Valley.

On Tuesday 21 March during the high-level event “Europe is calling innovators”, Ludovic Thilly gave a presentation on the role played by Coimbra Group Universities in attracting international talents to Europe. This gave him the opportunity to shed light on a broad range of initiatives promoted at CG Universities, such as innovation hubs and training offer, mentoring programmes for early-stage entrepreneurial projects, researchers and innovators, joint labs with industry, and universities’ own funding schemes – among other support mechanisms which often cover the entire innovation cycle.

The mission was an excellent opportunity to highlight how CG universities, reunited under the common motto “A tradition of Innovation”, and recognized for their strong local and regional anchorage, are indeed central actors in their respective research and innovation ecosystems. Representing a broad diversity of European traditions and cultures towards research, innovation and entrepreneurship, they are highly involved in creating stimulating and attractive environments for entrepreneurs and for international talents, as reflected in this paper put together with the inputs received from CG universities to prepare this mission to the Silicon Valley.

In parallel to the official events, Ludovic Thilly had the opportunity to meet bilaterally with Commissioner Gabriel and discuss important topics, including:

  • Synergies between “European Strategy for Universities” and “New European Innovation Agenda”
  • Alliances of European Universities: synergy between the future “Investment Pathway” (coordinated by DG EAC) and the work done under “ERA Action 13” (led by DG RTD with a core group formed by France and Coimbra Group)

On this occasion, Commissioner Gabriel confirmed her wish to ensure that synergy remains the key principle in all these upcoming developments: the missions of the Knowledge Square are indeed closely intertwined, and this should be reflected in any future European policies and funding instruments. Furthermore, Commissioner Gabriel also confirmed that she had taken careful note of the CG position paper on the mid-term evaluation of HE and our recommendations for the future FP10.

On Thursday 23 March, a smaller delegation composed of the university representatives, among them Ludovic Thilly, and several members of the European Commission, travelled to the campus of the University of California Berkeley (UCB). The visit started with a meeting at the Institute for European Studies and ended with a high-level meeting with UCB Chancellor, Carol Christ, and some of her senior advisors. The was the occasion for Ludovic Thilly to highlight the many cooperation frameworks already existing between UCB and CG Universities.

Overall, this high-level mission to the Silicon Valley was an unprecedented occasion to increase Coimbra Group visibility towards innovation actors beyond academia  – including with the European members of the delegation – and towards Northern American partners.