In last June in Brussels, three different Summits involving Innovation issues, plus a joint-seminar Business and Academic communities, were held (without mentioning the preparatory events):
- the 2d EU-CELAC / 8th EU-LAC summit held in Brussels on 10-11 June 2015 under the theme: “Shaping our common future: working for prosperous, cohesive and sustainable societies for our citizens”. It gathered 61 countries plus their respective regional institutions on 10-11 June 2015. It adopted three documents: 2 Declarations (a shorter political declaration: “A partnership for the next generation” and a second declaration covering the several strands of the relationship: “Brussels declaration” and 1 Action Plan.
- The 2d EU-CELAC Academic Summit gathering on 8-9 June 500 participants from 41 countries and 300 institutions from Higher Education, research centers and linked institutions, under the theme: “Towards a Euro-Latin American-Caribbean common Space for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation”. It issued its own Brussels Declaration under the title: “Building the Common Space for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation for the Strategic Bi-Regional Association” which was delivered to the Heads of State and Government Summit.
- The 5 th EU-CELAC Business Summit held on June 10 under the theme, “Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean: Promoting inclusive and sustainable growth by enhancing the role of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises”. This event was an opportunity for representatives of the business community, financial institutions and policy makers from across EU and CELAC Member States to come together, share ideas and strengthen ties. It issued also its own statement “Promoting inclusive and sustainable growth by enhancing the role of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises”, submitted too to the Heads of State and Government Summit.
- A joint seminar on Innovation between the Academic and the Business Summits was organized by EUROCHAMBRES with the European Commission and IRELAC on 8 June afternoon: “Innovation and intellectual property rights: towards a stronger EU-CELAC society through models of cooperation between universities and companies”. A specific joint communiqué was agreed upon between academics and business representatives: “Message from the Business and Academic communities of the Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean to the CELAC-EU Summit” All these documents are joined as attachment to the present letter. As regards Innovation, specific advances and results were registered, especially in the Academic Summit in connection with the Heads of State Summit, as well as in the joint seminar Academic/Business Summits.
The purpose of the Academic Summit: whereas the world challenges to be solved are quickly accumulating, developing additional complexities, the idea of the initiators of the EU-CELAC Academic Summit, is double: on the one hand to privilege academic internationalization starting from bi-regional relation UE-CELAC because these two regions share the closest choices of society, and on the other hand to make use of this academic co-operation as a lever to freely instigate the existing bi-regional diplomacy (the EU-CELAC Summits of Heads of State) by giving a say in a way not-filtered by the national hierarchies and conferences of the Rectors (“bottom-up”) to the academic people of higher education (professors, researchers, students, independent centres etc.) for contributing directly to a reinforcement of the bi-regional co-operation. The starting assumption of this movement is that intensification and a generalized activation of the bi-regional university co-operation is a privileged instrument for giving concrete contents to the construction of this bi-regional Strategic alliance, by influencing the choices of the priorities and their contents.
The results of the last two Summits of the Heads of state and government shows this assumption was right. In spite of a modest departure, the initiative gained in importance by the participation of the universities and academic individual and their impact on the orientation of the priorities and the contents of the political Summits. In Santiago in 2013, the Heads of State had recognized this concern by a paragraph in their Declaration: § 29: “We firmly believe in the importance of investments in the field of higher education, research and innovation for promoting growth, employment and sustainable development”. In Brussels Summit in June 2015, the incorporation of an additional chapter to the program of the political Summits on Higher education in the future Action plan became reality in particular with articles 69 (university co-operation) and 72 (opening in particular of the new chapter Higher education) and especially in the Action plan which details this additional Chapter 9 dedicated to the Higher education.
This Chapter 9 gives complementary precise details concerning the contributions of the institutions of Higher Education to the strategies decided already in Santiago under the chapter 1 “Science, research, innovation and technology”, chapter 2 “Sustainable development, environment, climate change, biodiversity, energy”, chapter 5 “Education and employment to promote social inclusion and cohesion” and chapter 8 “Investments and entrepreneurship for sustainable development sustainable”. It is so acknowledged that the role of academic is transversal with respect to most fields. More specifically, this new Chapter 9 states that “The objective is to give a new impetus to EU-CELAC cooperation in higher education and to support inclusive development of higher education sector, including equitable access and quality, by facilitating the sharing of knowledge and technology transfers through institutional strengthening, capacity building actions and mobility of students, researchers, experts, academic and administrative staff”.
It also gives a role to the Academic Summit indicating “…taking into account, among others, the CELAC-EU Academic Summits and the Summit of Presidents of Councils of Rectors of EU-CELAC countries, in close interaction with the EU-CELAC Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation (JIRI)” and by specifying that the bi-regional co-operation will have to “Contribute to the development of a future CELAC-EU Higher Education Area… ”, which is the main aim of the Academic Summit.
Chapter 9 of this new Action plan is very detailed and corresponds closely with the concerns and lines of action determined during preparations of the two Academic Summits. However, the goal of the Academic Summits is broader since it aims at constituting a common space not only for Higher education and Science, but also for Research and Innovation. Moreover, the innovation is understood by academic communities in a very broad sense including social innovation, fight against exclusion and new possibilities of social inclusion, in order to consolidate the bi–regional Strategic alliance which is founded on common values. These crucial aspects are also covered by the political Declaration of the Heads of State and their Action plan but under former chapters of which many aspects relate directly to academics, in particular the axis sciences, technology and innovation.