Universities should develop their relationships with industry to ensure that innovative R&D work in IT can be used in commercial applications, the head of an EU think tank has said.
Mario Campolargo, unit head at the Directorate-General Information Society and Media of the European Commission, said EU states had to improve how they fostered and captured IT innovation to remain competitive in the knowledge economy. The warning comes as nations such as China and India build their own R&D skills.
"Europe has to become better at producing IT knowledge through research, diffusing it through education and applying it to innovation and in industry," Campolargo said.
By collaborating with unversities, businesses could put new technologies to work and gain a competitive advantage. In return, universities would be able to refine their research work and develop avenues of funding.
Governments also have a role to play and should invest in building dedicated research networks between academic institutions to support virtual communities and the exchange of information.
Professor Richard Scase, author of the book Global Remix, which examines globalisation, said that India and China were producing more highly skilled IT professionals as a result of government-backed initiatives.
"The government should encourage businesses to work closer with universities through tax breaks, so that IT students gain a practical understanding of the skills employers are looking for, as many traditional IT skills are being offshored," Campolargo said.