Creativity and innovation: how can EU-funded projects make a difference?

Participants at a conference on creativity and innovation in EU-funded projects discussed ways of ensuring the best possible results and long-term impact. The conference is one of the flagship events for the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 (EYCI).
Creativity and innovation: how can EU-funded projects make a difference?

Four conference workshops focussed on creativity and innovation in lifelong learning; the links between creativity and innovation and entrepreneurship; cultural awareness and expression; and creative partnerships.


Participants stressed that the EU can create crucial European added value by acting as a facilitator in several ways: by giving financial support in initial project phases where risk-taking is a major concern, by providing supporting structures that allow projects to concentrate on their core objectives, or by creating brands such as the European capitals of culture as a means of recognition. In order to reap the benefits of EU-funded projects, the debates concluded that project results and experiences need to be carefully examined for their potential to be transferred to other contexts.


Participants appreciated the cross-sectoral approach of the conference, since it reflected the benefits of linking people from very diverse sectors, backgrounds and environments in innovative project partnerships, or, as one panellist put it, by bringing together people with pressing real-world needs with actors from more traditional learning contexts, research and academia.


Speaking to journalists after the first EYCI flagship event, Ján Figel', European Commissioner for education, training, culture and youth, denied that the goal of promoting creativity could be lost in the push for greater innovation in business which has arisen since the economic crisis began. “I don’t think there is a shift away from creativity but there is a very logical need to be attentive to the economic and social side of this situation because people are losing their jobs and we need to respond.This is not a cyclical crisis – it’s not the usual ups and downs of the business cycle. It’s systemic and the response must be innovative. Those who are innovative will get out faster and stronger,” Figel’ said.


He added that there is often a perceived dichotomy between creativity and innovation, and between business and culture, but the two should go hand in hand. He was optimistic that the EYCI will lead to permanent shifts towards a more innovative business and social culture.


Addressing the first EYCI flagship event in Brussels, the Commissioner launched a new electronic platform to help share information on Commission-funded projects. Espace Virtuel d'Echange (EVE) already includes results from hundreds of projects funded by DG Education and Culture. EVE is freely accessible online and contains detailed information on projects funded under the EU's action programmes in education, culture, youth and citizenship. Co-ordinators of such projects benefit from EVE by creating and developing dedicated spaces on their projects and regularly update them with information on progress and results. Such project results range from learning materials, project websites and participants' personal testimonials to new forms of European partnerships.


This will make it easier for project managers to learn from the successes – but also from the mistakes - of the past. EVE will also include all the information project promoters need to establish networks, which is often the crucial factor in the design of successful and efficient projects."


More on the outcome of the conference will bee soon published on the conference web pages.


To know more:

- Visit EVE at:

- Photo gallery of the event

- Find out more about outstanding projects: Creativity and Innovation. Best practices from EU programmes   [DE]   [FR].


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