Successful R&I in Europe 2019-Impressions

Around 400 stakeholders from science and business took part in the international networking event “Successful R&I in Europe 2019” on 14 and 15 February.

It was the tenth time that the Ministry of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia had extended an invitation to the “Successful Research & Innovation in Europe” conference in Düsseldorf. In its anniversary year, a record 400 delegates from science and business (double the figure from the first conference in 2009!) from 30 countries seized the opportunity to present not only new ideas for future projects but also research results ready for commercialisation, seek potential partners for joint “Horizon 2020” proposals and engage in networking.

Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, Minister, and Klaus Kaiser, Parliamentary State Secretary, both from the Ministry of Culture and Science, took part on behalf of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia in the international platform organised by the NRW.Europa team at ZENIT. The European Commission was represented by Dr. Wolfgang Burtscher, Deputy Director-General for Research and Innovation and Mattia Pellegrini of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME).

The conference focussed on “Horizon 2020”, the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, for which a budget of about € 80 billion was/is available for research projects in the period from 2014 to 2020. About € 20 billion in funding are still available for the last two years of the programme.

Klaus Kaiser
Mattia Pellegrini

“Few other regions spend as much on research as we do. North Rhine-Westphalia is in a good position to deliver a valuable contribution,” said Klaus Kaiser, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Ministry of Culture and Science, in his welcome address. He went on to say that the platform is an excellent opportunity for stakeholders in North Rhine-Westphalia to establish interesting contacts with whom to put innovative ideas into practice.

Mattia Pellegrini, Head of Department Finance and Administration at the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (the European Commission body in charge of the Enterprise Europe Network), spoke on “Ten Years of the Enterprise Europe Network: Results and Challenges”, stressing the Network’s importance for Europe’s business and research landscape.

Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen
Dr Wolfgang Burtscher
Panel Discussion

“Engaging with proposers is essential in order to identify what advice and support they require. Only in this way can a seamless transition from Horizon 2020 to Horizon Europe succeed in 2021 and can we continue to expand North Rhine-Westphalia’s participation in the forthcoming Framework Programme for Research and Innovation,” said Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, NRW’s Minister of Culture and Science, in her keynote speech entitled “Horizon Europe: First Impressions from NRW”.

Dr. Wolfgang Burtscher, Deputy Director-General for Research and Innovation, explained the draft proposal for Horizon Europe, which will follow on from Horizon 2020 and run from 2021 to 2027. The programme has a budget of € 100 billion and represents a revised and improved research and innovation agenda aimed at making better use of Europe’s globally leading role in research excellence and of its industrial strengths.


The conference was structured in thematic workshops – with about 120 pitches over the two-day event – and open networking sessions. The topics presented originated, amongst others, from the fields of ICT, nanotechnologies, energy, life sciences and transport.

With over 3,000 delegates in total, the “Successful R&I in Europe” conference series, for which the working language is English despite the German venue, has been a tremendous success since it first took place in 2009. This large number of participants substantiates its importance for Europe’s research and innovation calendar. The consortia it has produced have led to over 100 project proposals at EU, national and regional level. The fact that over half the delegates came from abroad confirms that the format answers a demand for networking platforms at international level.

In the framework of a parallel exhibition entitled “Innovations for Europe based in NRW”, a number of selected projects and initiatives were presented.

Delegates had at their disposal an eCar shuttle service provided with the support of local sponsors that ran between Düsseldorf Airport and the impressive venue of Van der Valk Airporthotel.

The conference profited from a broad spectrum of promotional activities undertaken by the Enterprise Europe Network, the largest business, technology and innovation support network in the world (over 600 organisations in over 60 countries), of which ZENIT is a partner in a consortium with NRW.BANK and NRW.International. Further assistance was provided by many organisations in this year’s partner countries: Belgium, Finland, France, Israel, the Netherlands and Poland.


(From left to right: Dr. Karsten W. Lemke, ZENIT GmbH; Dr. Wolfgang Burtscher, Deputy Director-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission; Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, Minister of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia; Dr. Bernd Janson, ZENIT GmbH; Dr. Peter Fisch, moderator)

Dr. Bernd Janson
Tel.: +49(0)208 30004 22