Working together for a brighter future: highlights from Orgalime’s ‘Collaborate to Better Compete’ event

13 November 2018 08:00    -   14 November 2018 09:00

Scroll through your newsfeed these da...

Scroll through your newsfeed these days and you could be forgiven for thinking that the whole world is turning inwards. Talk of building walls, pulling up drawbridges, rolling back international cooperation… as if these grey winter days weren’t miserable enough!

Look at what’s happening across Europe’s technology industries, however, and you will uncover a brighter version of events.

“For the companies we represent, collaboration is a driver of innovation, growth and job creation,”

explained Orgalime Director General Malte Lohan as he welcomed delegates to the ‘Collaborate to Better Compete’ event on 13 November.

Against the backdrop of an uncharacteristically sunny Brussels skyline, the event brought over 100 people to the Panoramic Room of the Square meeting centre to talk about joining forces for a better future – a welcome antidote to the doom-and-gloom from certain corners.

Moderated by Financial Times Frankfurt Correspondent Patrick McGee, the content-packed programme put collaboration back on top of the agenda – tackling topics such as the need for a coordinated EU industrial strategy and the opportunities for a European approach to Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The programme also featured a first-look preview of an original AI-driven study of industry trends commissioned by Orgalime and conducted by DataStories International – presented by DataStories CEO and Chief Data Scientist Katya Vladislavleva with analysis from Malte Lohan and Patrick Slaets, Chief Data Analyst at Agoria. 

Plus, delegates explored collaboration in action with a peek behind the scenes at the BeCentral campus, where CEO Laurent Hublet explained how innovative entrepreneurs are working together to accelerate Belgium’s digital transformation.

An undeniable buzz percolated through the day’s discussions, as leading industry speakers promoted collaboration as the key to a successful future for Europe – here are some of our main takeaways…

Collaborate to innovate and better compete

60-plus years of European-level cooperation has helped our technology industries become global leaders, united by a strong tradition of innovation. And with European companies leading the global digitisation revolution, this tradition is being reinvented for the 21st century.

Take AI, where EU industry is leveraging its unique strengths to compete globally, as Radu Surdeanu, Senior Director Digital Economy at Siemens, explained: “Europe’s leading edge is in domain expertise – in industrial AI. We have the knowledge base to build AI into existing systems and to work on cross-sector projects.”

Collaboration can also hold the key to help smaller and mid-sized enterprises tap into the benefits of these new technologies, as pointed out by CEO of Group Averys Jos De Vuyst: “We can take our deep sectoral knowledge and gain the right AI know-how through partnerships.”

Collaborate to solve societal challenges

Through innovations in AI and beyond, Europe’s technology companies are shaping a greener, healthier and more sustainable future for the EU. Yet these good news stories do not generally make the headlines. In order to build trust in the tech that can solve many societal challenges, there is a need to strengthen dialogue and build trust between industry and society.

“It’s a matter of communications and how we tell our story,”

explained Director of VDMA’s European Office Holger Kunze, drawing attention to how EU industry is delivering solutions to fight climate change and boost resource efficiency.

Collaborate to shape a framework fit for the future

Cast your mind back to European Commission President Juncker’s State of the Union address – which failed to mention industry once – and you might well argue that EU policymakers, too, need reminding of the positive role the technology industries will play in shaping Europe’s future.

This view was echoed by the panellists, with Jouko Peussa, Engineering Director at Ingersoll Rand, offering a wake-up call: “Our sectors should be understood as the engine of the car: no matter how hard you push, you won’t get far unless the engine runs smoothly.” This makes collaboration between policymakers and industry essential to keep Europe on the right path towards a bright tomorrow.

The will to engage is already there, as clear from forums such as the Commission’s Industry 2030 High-Level Roundtable. Orgalime President Tomas Hedenborg shared insights from his work in this cross-sector advisory group: “We are painting a picture of what we want industry to look like in 2030 – and how to best leverage Europe’s strengths in high-value-added manufacturing to remain competitive on the global stage.”

Yet talking the talk is one thing, but will policymakers walk the walk needed to achieve this 2030 vision? Beyond the carrot-versus-stick debate, speakers agreed it will require a change of mindset. It’s time to think collaboration first – to ask how policy and industry can work together to deliver the innovation, growth and prosperity that will deliver for the EU’s citizens.

With the European Parliament elections right around the corner, it’s the right moment to be asking these questions. And the technology industries are ready to play their part: the Orgalime General Assembly on 14 November laid the foundations for an approach that can maximise the contribution of our industries to Europe’s economy and society towards 2030 and beyond. If policymakers can become our partners in that mission, together we can build a future that is very bright indeed.

Check out all the photos from the day here. Interested in hearing about future Orgalime events? Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for all the latest news.