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The European Commission launched this week a report which addresses the challenges for the future of Europe regarding innovation and research.

The European Commission event took place in Brussels
The European Commission event took place in Brussels

Over 700 scientists, business leaders and policy makers have gathered this week in Brussels at the conference Research and Innovation – Shaping Our Future, where competitiveness, productivity and value generation were some of the key topics on discussion.

The report, entitled LAB – FAB – APP: Investing in the European Future We Want was initiated by an independent group of leading experts chaired by Pascal Lamy, President Emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institute. The document highlights the idea that part of Europe’s success is due to research and innovation as two thirds of economic growth achieved in the last two decades by industrialised countries are attributed to investments in this area. The document included 11 recommendations that focused on maximising the impact of EU investments in research and innovation in order to increase prosperity and solve the biggest societal challenges on the continent.

Apart from being pretty much focused on policies and research budgeting propositions, the recommendations address some of the Sustainable Development Goals such as education and human rights.

The 11 recommendations for the future of innovation are as follows:

*1. Prioritise research and innovation in the EU while taking them into account in national budgets, with emphasis on a doubling of the budget covering post-2020 EU research and innovation programme

  1. Build a true EU innovation policy that creates future markets

  2. Educate for the future and invest in people who will make the change

  3. Design the EU R&I programme for greater impact

  4. Adopt a mission-oriented, impact-focused approach to address global challenges

  5. Rationalise the EU funding landscape and achieve synergy with structural funds

  6. Simplify further, privilege impact over process

  7. Mobilise and involve citizens

  8. Better align EU and national R&I investment

  9. Make international R&I cooperation a trademark of EU research and innovation

  10. Capture and better communicate impact*

For Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, “Research and Innovation make a big difference to enhancing productivity, boosting competitiveness and tangibly improving our quality of life. Europe is a global scientific powerhouse, but we need to better reap the benefits of this knowledge by turning it into value for the economy and society through innovation.”

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

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It might seem exaggerated, but fintech is going through challenging times. Since 2014, it has been pointed as an alternative for the increasingly regulated traditional financial markets and presented successful funding cases – at least, up to now. According to the research firm CB Insights, the investments on venture capital-backed fintech cooled off in the last quarter of 2015, despite reaching the best year in its history.

Besides, fintech might not be as “disruptive” as it wants to be. In a recent article published by The Financial Times, the venture capital executive Mark Tluszcz wrote about how “there has been very little innovation and nothing truly transformational” in fintech. According to him, most of their “hype” is not justified – they are just regular businesses.

What does innovation and transformation stand for, after all? Is it about processes, business models, solutions? For sure. But it is also about mission, values, culture, purposes. We can’t change the first ones without changing the latters, and this is why most fintech are being challenged right now. They are indeed presenting new market solutions and, at least technically, differentiating themselves, but with the same old thinking – profit for few and capital concentration.

The problem is “the same old thinking” – it doesn’t make sense for many actors in our globalized, sharing, collaborative society. It doesn’t sound interesting for the new generations, future clients and investors of this industry. We all like innovation, but we don’t want to use it for feeding the same vicious circle that created such global problems as poverty and inequality.

It is shameful that we, as an ever growing technological society, have 2,8 billion people living with less than 2 dollars a day. What is fintech doing to change this scenario?

A win-win situation

Last February, Horyou, the social network for social good, created the first global social currency, Spotlight. It is a fintech project, although Horyou is not a fintech company. Spotlight is a micro-funding tool that allows any member of the network to support social initiatives and non-profit organizations through a real digital currency. It also allows any member of the platform to get funds for their own projects and initiatives. And it opens a world of opportunities for investors thanks to its conscious capitalism background.

The innovation with Spotlight is it provides an alternative source of funding for hundreds of millions of entrepreneurs, youth, artists or organizations. It spreads innovation globally and it gives power and initiative to all its actors. “Spotlights is a revolution of internet which affects not only the Corporate Social Responsibility sector but the whole society on a global level”, says Yonathan Parienti, founder and CEO of Horyou.

There is hope. And that’s why I wish a long, long life for fintech, as it discovers the path that combines innovation, transformation and purpose for a better world.

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