Vice minister-president Fientje Moerman calls upon her fellow ministers to collaborate in a policy 'founded on innovation' across policy boundaries in her Flemish Innovation Plan.
Firstly, The Council requests attention for three types of innovation which should be present simultaneously in a balanced manner: innovation of products and services, innovation of processes and structural innovation.
The VRWB agrees that innovation should be encouraged in various ways and in various domains, and that all forms of innovation should fit into a global, horizontal policy plan. This approach is innovative and marked as positive. The VRWB also wonders whether the call to other policy domains is not too non-committal.
The policy plan, in terms of topics, is a very complete document, but still remains a bundling of policy intentions from the government agreement, which are explained with existing or announced policy measures. This plan also presents a number of challenges. How will the minister convince her colleagues to stimulate innovation in their policy domains and to lay down an action plan? What incentives are possible for the horizontal integration/coordination in the administration?
The integration of more innovation in other policy domains cannot take anything away from the additional resources for the 'science and innovation' policy domain. Some selectivity in terms of what should or should not be supported by budget is indicated. The Flemish government should thus lay its own emphases within its policy. The VRWB project with respect to setting priorities can advance a reference framework for this purpose.
Education and training are crucial in the design of the innovation chain. Coordination of education - science and innovation is thus a very important aspect. Yet this link is somewhat underexposed in the nine guidelines.
The VRWB reviewed the guidelines in greater detail and makes the following comments:
- Flanders still remains mediocre in terms of its innovation profile.
- An expansion to non-technological aspects is very much in progress, but this does not mean that the entire innovation policy and its support mechanism should be brought in line with at the cost of the base, i.e., technological innovation.
- The VRWB also points out that the role of the government in correctly informing the citizens, stimulating entrepreneurship, creativity, lowered risk aversion, stimulating of activating education and sensitising youth to science and innovation to create social support for innovation.
- The policy for encouraging greater mobility of researchers in knowledge institutions and in corporate life is supported.
- The Council reiterates that the budgetary efforts should be of such a type that they exceed the government planning by a large margin.
- The largest handicap in the area of costs between Belgium and its neighbouring countries is the salary costs of researchers. Fiscal instruments are the most referred to plan options to help resolve the same.
- More stimuli should be given to researchers to urge them towards more interaction with corporate life.
- The Council underlines the need for more researchers and proposes that this is done as per a realistic growth curve. A range of measures can be used for this purpose. Thereafter, the VRWB also points out that more attention is necessary for the continuation path and the complete career of the researcher.
- An effort should be made by government and corporate life to integrate doctors more easily into corporate life.