ICT AS the basis of INNOVATION development

Nowadays Europe is lagging behind the United States in the innovation area. Wanting to keep up with them, the EU stresses the significance of ICT innovations

"ICT is the most important driver of modern economy..

First, ICT is a leader of innovation...But innovation in ICT is not just for the ICT industry! ICTs underpin innovation and creativity right across the rest of the economy. Economists agree that the ICT industries, together with the investments in ICT account for 50% of productivity growth in Europe. This sounds good, but it is not good enough. In the US ICT accounts for 80% of productivity growth. And, while productivity growth has been slowing down in Europe over the last 10 years, in the US it has almost doubled. This is not economic competitiveness. It is about being able to afford what we want in the future: the hope that our children will be better off than we are; a comfortable retirement for our own generation and a cohesive, socially sustainable Europe. For all these reasons, we need to implement effective ICT strategies at local, regional, national, as well as European level."
Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
Madrid, Monday 8th May 2006

Mr Barosso, President of the European Commission, is not the only key politician stressing the importance of ICT innovation for the growth of his country. Almost exactly the same words can be found in the latest speeches of country leaders on every continent.

They all point out that ICT industries and underpin innovativeness and growth of every economic and social sector - from state administration to healthcare, trade, transport, tourism, even agriculture and healthy food production. An example, Sweden and Spain have an agreement that allows radiologists to use fast broadband connections so that they can share their x-rays and measuring results. This means faster analysis of medical data, with savings of 700 000█ per year, which is a cost reduction of 35%. These examples of ICT innovation helping in various economic branches can be traced worldwide. It is also stressed that the basis of further ICT innovation development is higher broadband take-up.
Broadband is not just fast telephones. Even informatically illiterate politicians have realized that broadband means access to knowledge - broadband is access to contemporary multimedia library with almost unlimited richness of content. Wise politicians of underdeveloped countries understand that each citizen with broadband access to Internet has almost the same access to knowledge as a student in Oxford, Stanford, MIT or Yale. For each country, especially the underdeveloped or the developing ones, this is an invaluable treasure.

When it comes to Europe and the broadband, there are already 60 million broadband subscribers in the EU, representing 13% of the population. Spain alone today has more than 5 million broadband lines. This sounds good, but Europe is still lagging behind Asian tigers, like Korea and Japan. This results in difference between the number of ICT innovations, the number of innovations in general, and this again reflects itself in the difference in economic growth.

Apart from the broadband access to Internet, the support of small and medium enterprises is also crucial to developing ICT innovation. As a confirmation of the thesis and the importance of small and medium enterprises development, crucial for the overall economic growth, it is indicated that many of the technology giants of the sector, like Microsoft, Oracle or Cisco, did not even exist thirty years ago.

The EU leaders point out that the number of innovations and still strong US and Japan dominance call for Europe's urgent action and almost panic moves in order to boost its innovation. Every example of global success, every globally known innovative and highly profitable company originates from the US or from the Asian tigers.

However, it is also stated that due to certain measures taken over the past years in the EU, the old continent shows two can play at that game - the most often listed examples are Nokia, Skype, SAP╔
In years to come, we hope, together with our partners, the Vidi e-Novation competition will actually contribute to Croatia's launching onto the world market at least one globally recognized brand, the driver of Croatia's overall innovation industry.

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Europe (red) is at this point drastically lagging behind the Unites States of America (blue) and Japan (golden) when it comes to the quantity of innovative products launched into the market.
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Germany, Sweden and Finland are the leading European countries in the innovation area. Countries like Italy, France or Great Britain, even Norway, are categorized as the European average; while Portugal, Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Latvia are catching up with the average ones. The situation is the worst in Spain, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania. Unfortunately (or luckily), there is no comparable data for Croatia

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