One Does Not Need To Be A Genius To Be An Innovator

Anastasia Minets,
Head of International Projects of  INNO-MIR

Last week the Interregional Center of Innovation Development (INNO-MIR) took part in the Innovation Convention 2014 held in Brussels on 10-11 March 2014. The event, organized by the European Commission, initially focused on the European Union members. However, non-European participants could also learn much, not only from the content, but also from the way such a big international event was organized.
According the organizers, the event was intended to provide "a platform to debate and inform policies that will contribute towards the building of a research and innovation eco-system in Europe that can support this objective." The mission of the Convention – creation of a  innovation-friendly environment that promotes open communication, sharing of information and experience within European innovation community, politicians, representatives of the young generation and with other regions and countries interested in cooperation.
During the meetings and parallel sessions, a wide range of questions on innovation culture, education, political support of innovations, international cooperation were discussed. Also the winners of the 2014 EU Prize for Women Innovators were announced, and Barcelona was awarded with the European Capital of Innovation ("iCapital") prize.
The basic idea, which could become the slogan of the Convention: "Let's cooperate!" This idea sounded in all the discussed topics.

On cooperation of academic science , innovation and business said Gitte Neubauer, Ph.D. ,  a scientific founder of Cellzome and 1st Prize Winner of the EU Prize for Women Innovators in 2011 . According Gitte, she was able to achieve success only thanks to her team, which stands out not only because of the strong scientific basis, but also because of the highly innovative culture. She also talked about the need to promote international cooperation and she added that the government and big business should not be afraid to collaborate with innovators and to take responsibility for risky startups.
The International Cooperation session was devoted to Global Challenges. It was attended by representatives of Europe (Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council, France), USA (Eddie Bernice Johnson , Congresswoman, the first female Ranking Member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, USA), China (Jennie Yeung, President & Founder, United Nations Education Science Cultural Health Advancement Foundation, China ), South Africa (Derek Hanekom, Minister of Science and Technology, South Africa) and Latin America (Lino Barañao, Minister of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation of Argentina). Various aspects of international cooperation in the field of innovation were discussed. And primarily, science, which should be a binder for all continents. Not only for the exchange of experience and information, but also for the implementation of joint projects to combat epidemics and pandemics, for vaccine development, space exploration, etc. The main ideas: 1) When we speak about cooperation, we can not forget about different development levels of the countries and regions, and even within several groups in the same region. Therefore it is necessary to jointly develop tools for innovation in a particular environment, and furthermore, it is necessary to stimulate the development of science and technology in accordance with the real needs of each region, attracting to this task sociologists, anthropologists and culture experts; 2) there are a lot of barriers in the world, and language is one of them. Therefore, education is another tool for successful interaction; 3) the modern world and science develop very quickly, on the one hand requiring the maximum human adaptability, on the other, leaving no time to build strong relationships. And if adaptability is one of the important tools of innovation development, the lack of time for human communication is one of the barriers; 4) it is necessary to encourage and support the younger generation, but it needs to make the science sphere attractive in terms of careers.
The importance of cooperation and timely exchange of information was discussed at the section devoted to innovation in sport, and at the section "A Conversation with young researchers." The last one gives young scientists the opportunity to talk and ask questions to 2012 Nobel Prize Laureate for Physics Serge Haroche (France) and Erik Lindahl from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology ( Sweden). One of the basic ideas gleaned from this conversation is the following: innovations are born in the process of live people communication. This is especially true for the young generation.
Particular attention was given to education, and education of the young generation. The Generation Z section was dedicated to young leaders for innovation in Europe. Generation Z was represented by Jack Andraka (founder of cancer detector, USA), Elif Bilgin (Winner of Google Science Fair 2013 “Science in Action Award” and “Voter’s Choice Award”, Turkey), Jordan Casey (Founder of TeachWare, Ireland), Alberto Elias (CoFounder of Holalabs, Spain), Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow (winners of the contest for young scientists of the EU (EUCYS) in 2013, Ireland). The mere fact that these very young people (their age range between 14 and 16 years) achieved such brilliant success in the field of innovation, is striking. Their relaxed manner of communication with public, fine speech, a very sensible position pleasantly surprised. On many issues, they were in agreement with each other. Briefly summarized, to reach success a modern young innovator should, first of all, not to be afraid! Not be afraid to express their ideas, even if they may seem insane to some. Not to be afraid to ask for support from teachers and parents. To not be afraid of success, and to be ready for it. "We should not wait until we are 40 to achieve something in life". For its part, "adult" scientific community must recognize that children are also able to make remarkable discoveries, and should be ready to offer them cooperation and support . There were also claims to education, similar to those we have heard in Russia. Children voted for the individual approach. It was spoken about the need to improve and upgrade their skills to the teachers who have to support and guide their students, to help them open their talents , to teach them to think differently. Perhaps, the main thesis of the generation Z: one does not need to be a genius to be an innovator.
Thus, the main leitmotif/theme of the Innovation Convention 2014 is as simple as can be, but so difficult to recognize as the truth : Let us unite and cooperate! What do we need for that? To overcome the communication and technological barriers. To give people a little more time for live communication. To understand that for successful innovation development we need not to compete, but to unite our efforts and knowledge. To remember that innovatio is always a risk , but a justified risk and we should not be afraid of it. To actively support the young generation, and promote education to fulfil that goal. In conclusion, we would like to present a phrase said by Lino Barañao - the very simple truth that we sometimes overlook: “We are all in the same boat!” 


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