Transatlantic Innovation Action Partnership Work Plan

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
December 17, 2010

With the aim of stimulating economic growth and job creation, the Transatlantic Innovation Action Partnership will coordinate U.S. and EU activities aimed at strengthening innovation ecosystems and promoting the commercialization of emerging technologies and sectors. Through this coordination, we will seek to:

(1) Create a transatlantic market for innovative products with as few barriers to trade and investment as possible;

(2) Facilitate U.S.-EU leadership in establishing global policy approaches and addressing common third country challenges and opportunities;

(3) Promote mutual learning and sharing of best practices; and

(4) Encourage stakeholder transparency, participation, and collaboration.

Building upon the work already under way in existing U.S.-EU regulatory dialogues and cooperative research ventures, and drawing extensively upon the input of stakeholders, the Transatlantic Innovation Action Partnership will initially focus on the following elements:

(1) Establish two new sectoral work streams in priority areas not sufficiently addressed through existing co-operation: raw materials and bio-based products; and

(2) Exchange good practice on innovation policy.

1. Proposal for new EU-U.S. sectoral work streams

1.1 Raw materials

Rationale: A sustainable and secure international supply of industrial raw materials is a vital national interest of the EU and the United States. Raw materials supply and price conditions can substantially influence the diversity and pace of technological innovation and the success of U.S. and European companies and research labs, both in the commercial and government contracting sectors, affecting the well-being and security of citizens worldwide. Given that many raw materials – including metals and minerals are produced and distributed in different places around the world, free trade is essential to the steady and sustainable supply of industrial raw materials to industries around the world, and disruptions in raw materials trade can cause significant harm to companies, economies, and the global trading system. The United States and the EU are working to ensure a secure international supply of raw materials.

Collaborative research across the value chain, including on recycling, mining and substitution of (critical) raw materials is essential and should be explored. Exchanges of views should be intensified and possible coordinated initiatives pursued.

Trade issues: Increased global prosperity has increased consumption of many raw materials. While this is generally a positive trend, growing consumption can cause scarcity and higher prices of many raw materials, as some materials are limited in supply and considerable time and investment will be required for the supply of other materials to meet new demand. Increased competition for, and supply problems with, raw materials have prompted governments to intervene in raw materials markets through export restraints, dual pricing, and other measures aimed at making more raw materials available for domestic processing industries and preserving resources for long-term development.

Trade policy can play an important role in improving resource efficiency, increasing recycling rates, and ensuring a sustainable supply of raw materials. Trade policy can improve the functioning of global raw materials markets by:

  • Limiting the number of trade distortions jeopardizing the efficient use of resources -- for example by promoting a predictable, fair, and rules-based framework on export restraints (e.g., export quotas, taxes, non-automatic licensing, and minimum pricing) and dual pricing practices;
  • Encouraging governments to pursue least-trade restrictive policies as they develop their raw material resources in a sustainable manner; and
  • Creating an environment favourable to investment and the development of production and transportation capacities for raw materials and recycled materials.

Work Plan: The EU and United States will discuss enhanced cooperation on raw materials policy in two areas:

-- Strategies aimed at promoting increased transparency in the raw materials trade policies of third countries and eliminating trade barriers that distort global materials markets. Possible initiatives include:

  • Encouraging the development of a strengthened international framework regarding trade in raw materials in G-20, OECD and other fora, and in particular:
  • Coordinating on transparency work on trade in raw materials in the OECD;
  • Encouraging the development of OECD best practices on least-trade restrictive policies for developing raw material resources in a sustainable manner; and
  • Cooperating in the WTO to reduce barriers to trade in raw materials.

-- Strategies to improve the investment and innovation climate to accelerate the sustainable development of raw materials industries, thereby improving global supply. Possible initiatives include:

  • Identification and removal of barriers to sustainable, transparent investment in global raw materials;
  • Identification of possible research topics of common interest;
  • Encouragement of policies, through appropriate international fora, that accelerate the development of efficient recycling of key materials and facilitate the use of innovative materials throughout the economic value chain;
  • Development of innovative solutions for safe, economical, sustainable, and energy-efficient extraction, processing and recycling of industrial raw materials;
  • Development of viable alternatives for critical raw materials;
  • Working with U.S. and EU industries to develop a “best practices” list for the economical, sustainable, and energy-efficient extraction, processing, recycling and transportation of industrial raw materials.

1.2 Bio-economy and bio-based products

Rationale: The EU and the United States have both placed innovation for a greener economy at the heart of their political agenda. Developing a knowledge-based bio-economy, one that encourages the use and development of eco-friendly products, is an important cornerstone in this process. This is highlighted in the Europe 2020 Strategy, which underlines the role of the bio-economy as part of the “Innovation Union.” Bio-based products provide for significant value added and are in high demand. They include non-food products derived from land and/or aquatic biomass, including plants, algae, crops, trees, microbes, marine organisms, and biological waste from food consumption and production, agriculture, forestry, households, aquaculture and fisheries. These products have the potential to promote industrial competitiveness, raw material diversification, rural development, the efficient and sustainable use of natural resources, and the development of new markets.

The U.S. government has launched the Biobased Markets Program, known as BioPreferredSM, and the European Commission (EC) has launched an action plan for implementing the Lead Market Initiative for bio-based products. These programs focus on standards, public procurement, coherence of regulation, communication aspects and financing of demonstrators for integrated bio-refineries.

Work under the Transatlantic Innovation Action Partnership will complement work on bio-based products and economy issues already under way in the EC-U.S. Task Force on Biotechnology Research and the EU-U.S. Energy Council, potentially covering the entire innovation chain in this emerging sector. By promoting technological development and international trade, EU-U.S. cooperation could accelerate the development of markets for eco-efficient bio-based products derived from renewable biological raw materials which will encourage a progressive transformation from an oil-based to a bio-based economy.

Work Plan: The goal of U.S.-EU cooperation will be to produce compatible public policies and standards that will expand the transatlantic market for bio-based products. The United States and the EU will seek to:

  • Develop a common label for bio-based products;
  • Develop common, interoperable and timely standards;
  • Promote mutual recognition of certified products;
  • Conduct public outreach on the benefits of bio-based products.

Initial collaboration would include exchanging best practices, establishing a U.S.–EU bio-cluster network and producing a methodology for joint economic/social/environmental impact assessment.

2. Exchange of best practices on innovation policy

2.1 Commercialization of research results

Rationale: In order to create value in our economies, public and private investment in research needs to be complemented with an innovation system conducive to transforming new knowledge into innovative products and services. Many actors are involved in having research results successfully commercialized and public policies play an important role in addressing the risks inherent to bringing about innovations. Given the size of the EU and the U.S. and the diversity of policy approaches to support commercialisation, it would be of mutual interest to engage in policy learning in this area. Given the role and importance of SMEs in our respective economies, particular attention should be devoted to their needs.

Work Plan: The goal of the EU-U.S. cooperation in this area is to help remove bottlenecks to commercialisation of research results by learning from good practice in support policies. More specifically, examples of good practice will be sought in areas such as:

  • Establishing better links between the science system and businesses, including knowledge and technology transfer
  • Supporting entrepreneurship through training and education
  • Facilitating access to finance in the early stages of firm growth (VC, business angels, philanthropic foundations)

2.2 Innovation cluster mapping

Rationale: There is a growing body of literature that suggests industry clusters—geographic concentrations of firms, suppliers, support services, specialized infrastructure, producers of related products, and specialized institutions that arise in particular fields in particular locations—are the key drivers of prosperity in national economies. The EU and the United States have made substantial investments in efforts to understand where these clusters are located, how they operate, and what governments at all levels can do to support their growth and development. For example, the European Cluster Observatory, managed by the Stockholm School of Economics and financed by the European Commission and DG Enterprise and Industry under the Europe INNOVA initiative, is an information clearinghouse about the existence and performance of regional clusters. The U.S. Government is also investing in the creation of information products about clusters, which will provide regions with the foundation of knowledge they need to pursue innovative, cluster-based economic development strategies. The Economic Development Administration, for example, recently partnered with the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School to develop a cluster map and inventory of active cluster initiatives in the U.S. Creating this information base is the first step toward greater collaboration between the EU and the United States on matters of exports, workforce, and other cluster-related issues.

Work Plan: The goal of EU-U.S. cooperation is to enhance the competitiveness of regional economies by sharing information about existing and emerging clusters. The United States and the EU will seek to:

  • Actively share information about the development of cluster maps and related products and how they are being used to drive regional prosperity.
  • Identify and collaborate on opportunities for engaging the private sector on cluster mapping outcomes in order to promote entrepreneurship, trade, and job creation.
  • Promote regional innovation clusters as the basis of competitive regional economies and the foundation of viable economic development strategies.