I was invited to deliver an opening speech at the international symposium “European Research on the Move”. The title of my speech is “Development strategies: a matter of choice”. The Symposium “is devoted to the debate on expected changes in science organization and financing, mutual relationship between national and international research policies, the issue of modern scientific research infrastructures in Europe and the institutions at which research takes place, particularly universities. Also the interplay between basic science and technological innovations, as well as potential applications will be discussed“.
I am planning to open with the following:
“European Union is in the state of war. It is a war that has begun a decade ago, new battlefields open almost every day and our armies are in retreat in most battles, on earth, in the air and in the deep waters. Our enemies mobilized unprecedented resources, their armies outnumber the Union forces, hundreds of thousands of new, well trained recruits join the enemies forces each year, while the Union pool of talent able to survive and launch a victorious strike seems more shallow than ever. Our enemies have well targeted strategy, to make their countries prosper and to deprive our children and grandchildren from their prosperous future. Our enemies follow their strategy with a great determination while we still focus on tactics, winning a battle here or there, without a grand strategy to guide us. The Union is plagued by angst and impossibilism, Union leadership is scarse, weak or non-existent, Union army morale has never been worse.
There is no time to be spared, their is no money to be wasted, there is no man or woman to remain idle, we shall all unite to fend off the biggest threat that has faced Europe in the last two thousand years. It is this defining moment in the history of Europe, when national divisions should be removed, when local agendas should be abandoned, when we, Union citizens proud of our great history and culture should rise and declare: no more.
Wars in the past twenty centuries were fought by armies or navy fleets. The grand war of the 21st century is fought by scientists, researches, enginneers, and companies that turn ideas into products sold to billions of consumers. Before, the winning armies had superior weapons, more soldiers, wiser commanders-in-chief. In the 21st century battles are fought by teams of scientists, and the victory requires more creative minds, better ideas, better labs, better ability to commercialize innovation, better ability to market and sell new products and services. Nations that fail to develope these skills will persish, nations that build modern knowledge armies will prosper. One thing, however, has not changed. Similarly to wars of the past, the odds of winning the 21st century research and science war will be higher if our armies are led by great strategic minds, minds that can warm souls, can breed hope and optimism, can reinvigorate our innovative fabric that was with us for centuries. The time for the Union development strategy has come. It is a matter of choice.
I am planning to keep my speech in the military style. The key goal of my speech is to convince conference participants, that without effective Union-wide science and research strategy Europe can become a failed state in the next few decades, plagued by aging society, weak public finances, flooded by innovative products from Asia. I am looking for ideas, what should the new EU science and research strategy look like, what steps should be taken to win this knowledge war, do we have commander-in-chief to lead our scientific troops, who could play that role. What are Europe’s most significant achievements in the past that could help build effective research battle strategies and tactics in the future. Please share your ideas.