Innovation refers to the creation of new or significantly improved products, processes, marketing methods and organization structures that add value to markets, governments and the society. Investments in Research and Innovation (R&I) are driving long-term growth, and it is widely accepted that countries that invest in R&I are recovering faster from the current economic crisis.

Across Europe Research and Innovation is identified as one of the key drivers that will enable the European economy to get back on track. Europe is facing many challenges, and needs to create job opportunities for all – especially the young, make companies more competitive in the global market, solve the challenges of an ageing population, secure resources like food and fuel, fight global warming, and improve smart and green transport.

While ideas need an innovation-friendly environment to grow and become products or services that will benefit citizens and economies, Europe faces multiple hurdles, like weaknesses in public education and innovation systems, poor availability of finance, costly patenting, outdated regulations and procedures, slow standard-setting, failure to use public procurement strategically, and fragmented efforts among member countries and regions. By improving conditions and access to finance for Research and Innovation in Europe, innovative ideas can be turned into products and services that create growth and jobs.

The Innovation Union, the European Union’s new flagship initiative to address the R&I challenge, forms part of the Europe 2020 strategy to create smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The initiative aims at making Europe a world-class performer in science, revolutionising the way the public and private sectors work together, notably through Innovation Partnerships, and removing bottlenecks – creating an internal market for skills, patents, venture capital, innovation procurement and standard setting to foster ideas being quickly implemented on the market. Beneficiaries of the Innovation Union initiative are citizens and public authorities, entrepreneurs and industry/business, and researchers and engineers.

The financial instrument implementing Europe’s new R&I strategy is Horizon 2020, succeeding the FP7 which, together with CIP, have been EU’s main instruments for funding research in Europe in the period 2007-2013. Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU R&I programme ever, with nearly €80 billion of funding for 2014-2020 – in addition to the private investment that this funds will attract. Seen as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs, Horizon 2020 places emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling of societal challenges, is open to everyone, and will be complemented by further measures to complete and further develop the European Research Area.

Research and Innovation constitutes a key area within PLANET’s spectrum of activities, aiming at the continuous enhancement of the company service portfolio and the creation of new service offerings that integrate PLANET’s leading position in the field of management consulting. These activities have been developed by PLANET, assimilating relevant know-how from international co-operations, and exploiting European R&I funding possibilities.

PLANET has established a longstanding presence in European R&I projects since the first EU funded research programmes (e.g. ESPRIT I, ESPRIT II), and the subsequent Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, and is now implementing an integrated participation plan in Horizon 2020. Moreover, the company has extensive experience in the Greek national research programmes. Since its establishment in 1987, PLANET has coordinated more than 20 pan-European RTD projects and participated in approximately 50 EU-funded and national RTD projects.

PLANET’s research & innovation activities and services focus on the development of innovative methods, scenarios and models that anticipate and shape the future evolution of knowledge society; evaluation and validation of advanced technological solutions in real business/organisational settings; development of market studies and business plans for the future exploitation and deployment of R&I results; support to EU R&I international cooperation policy development; provision of training and support to users of R&I results and newcomers in the R&I programmes.

In addition, PLANET combines the above service offerings with its reputed experience in technical and administrative project management of large-scale R&I projects, thus differentiating itself as a leading actor in the area.

PLANET’s Research and Innovation activities target a wide spectrum of sectors. Initially placing emphasis on Information & Communication Technologies (e-Government services & systems, knowledge management, collaborative work and eLearning, methods and systems for e-commerce), The company has gradually expanded its activities in the areas of Energy, Environment, Health, Transport and Socioeconomic Sciences, supporting the entire range of industries, serving and covering the new aspects of Horizon 2020. Towards this direction, a dedicated team is responsible for the coordination and monitoring of research and innovation activities.

The projects designed and implemented by PLANET present a wide geographical dispersion, involving partners and beneficiaries coming from countries around the globe, including the EU member states, as well as Western Balkan, Mediterranean (MEDA), Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) and other countries.

A key element in the successful implementation of PLANET’s R&I activities is the collaboration with a diverse network of leading industry innovators, pioneering academic research institutes and other innovation actors across Europe.