Background

The shape and potential of industries in Europe and worldwide will be transformed over the next decade. New goods and services will be created for rapidly growing markets in both developed and emerging economies, in particular in North America and East Asia. Whilst a significant part of the goods and services that will be available in the markets of the 2020's are as yet unknown, the main driving force behind their development will be the deployment of Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). 

In 2009, the European Union (EU) identified six KETs: Advanced materials, Photonics, Nanotechnologies, Micro- and nano-electronics, Biotechnology, Advanced Manufacturing Systems, for their potential impact in strengthening Europe's industrial and innovation capacity and to address the societal challenges ahead. In particular, KETs were recognized as playing an increasingly vital role for the delivery of smart, sustainable and inclusive European growth. All applications of KETs directly or indirectly stimulate competitiveness and generate jobs, growth and wealth in the economy. See “key enabling technologies” for more information on KETs. Final goods are often a combination of several of these technologies, constituting a multi-KETs box.

However, whilst Europe is a global leader in KETs development, Europe fails to translate its knowledge base into a production capability securing growth, employment and sustainable living standards. European KETs-related manufacturing is decreasing rapidly through outsourcing, and more and more EU patents are exploited outside the EU. Europe does most of the thinking and comes up with most of the ideas in the enabling technologies. However, the resulting patents are increasingly exploited by its Asian (in particular China, to whom Europe has no competition agreements) and North American competitors, who produce the goods for a fast growing global market, supported by competitive and aggressive industrial policies. 

Those nations and regions mastering and deploying these technologies will be, therefore, at the forefront of economic growth, achieving high growth figures in both production and employment. Hence, Europe has to proactively stimulate the necessary actions, to emerge as key players in this very strategic economic orientation.