Our EU Trend Reports tackle innovative business practices from a policy perspective. They help policymakers better understand the latest trends in business and industry innovation and provide specific policy recommendations to unleash the potential of European businesses and scale-up successful innovative solutions in the EU. Two trend reports are published every year, drawing on case studies and conference outcomes.
The latest innovation trends — from drones to food to collaborative production — feature in this fifth batch of case studies from the EU’s Business Innovation Observatory. The report was, like all four previous editions, co-authored by Dr. René Wintjes.
This fifth trend report looks into a number of disruptive innovations — innovations that could change our lives in the very near future. Chief among them, say the authors, is collaborative production, which blurs the line between companies as producers, on the one hand, and individuals as consumers, on the other. Drawing from Internet-based technologies, it connects and empowers individuals to fund, design, prototype, produce, manufacture, distribute, market and sell their own goods. The report then spotlights insects and algae as more sustainable sources of protein for a surging human population (set to reach 10 billion by 2050, according to some UN estimates). The authors also draw attention to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), thanks to various developments in aviation materials, navigation, robotics and ICT. The authors list a range of novel uses, including monitoring of environmental, agricultural and fishery operations; search and rescue support, disaster response, border control, etc.
These disruptive innovations pose new policy challenges that require urgent answers. On the first point, the authors say that collaborative production can be encouraged by providing more ‘collaborative places’, e.g. shared physical infrastructure and ‘platform market places’. On the second point, the report says that the development of new protein sources can be encouraged by clarifying and loosening the EU’s regulatory framework. And finally, the authors say that more clearly defined safety and security regulations for UAVs would protect both civilians on the ground and economic benefits for the industry.
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