Highlights of the Public Launch and First Conference of Atomium-EISMD

27 November 2009 – The public launch and first conference of Atomium-EISMD took place at the European Parliament in Brussels.

With the participation of the Honorary President of Atomium-EISMD, Mr Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the President of Atomium-EISMD, Mr Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini, the Editor-in-Chief of El Pais, Member of the Advisory Board of Atomium-EISMD Mr Javier Moreno, the Rector of the University of Utrecht, member of the Advisory Board of Atomium-EISMD, Professor Hans Stoof, the Adviser and former Secretary General of Atomium-EISMD, French Minister for Agriculture Mr Bruno Le Maire, the Secretary of State for Universities of Spain, Professor Marius Rubiralta and many more (for complete list of speakers see http://www.atomiumculture.eu/mail/Conference27November2009.html or see the PDF above).

The conference brought together leaders and main representatives from some of the most authoritative universities, newspapers and businesses in Europe to together address the failure of the Lisbon strategy – as mentioned by Mr Javier Moreno “Europe will not become the first economic and technology power in the world in the next 34 days”- the recognition of knowledge and intelligence as Europe’s main asset – as said by Minister Bruno Le Maire “Europe should contribute to global development with its intelligence”- and the need to change the way we do research –as mentioned by the Mr Baracchi Bonvicini “The development of this new way of thinking changes the model for interactions and collaborations within different sectors of society, from linear to a more complex and dynamic structure. A model that reminds us of the complexity of the beehive where every actor brings and contributes to the whole with his expertise”.

For a strong Europe we need to take action, as called upon by Mr Moreno “we need to stop debating and start doing”. Professor Per Ericsson, Rector of Lund University underlined that if identifying two characteristics for different areas of the world Asia would be “products and long-term perspectives”, America “Business and Change” whilst Europe is characterized by “Discussions and Agriculture”. This will not lead to innovation and progress.

We need to use the institutions we already have and start promoting what is most important, Research and Innovation.

The Honorary President Giscard d’Estaing underlined the “courageous approach of Atomium Culture in forming the link between eminent universities and researchers, business and press. Each actor an essential component for the future of a strong Europe”.

Minister Le Maire pointed out that what politics fail to do can be done by Civil Society and Atomium Culture is the perfect example in bringing together leading institutions of civil society to bring forward the transformation that Europe needs.

The importance of the collaborations with the printed press was underlined by the Honorary President Giscard d’Estaing, the President Mr Baracchi Bonvicini and Mr Pawel Lisicki, Editor-in-Chief of Rzeczpospolita, who underlined the strategic role of newspapers as the first step in increasing the dissemination of research to the public at large as newspapers have the “time” to focus on the depth and content of the matter more than other media.

Mr Wim Philippa, Secretary General of the European Roundtable of Industrialists and member of the Advisory Board of Atomium Culture, reiterated the need for industry to prioritise this collaboration at a European level for the development of a health economy in Europe.

Massimo Marchiori, one of the major contributors to the development of the World Wide Web (and upcoming member of the Innovation Committee of Atomium Culture, currently being created), emphasized the peculiar characteristics of the Permanent Platform of Atomium Culture that makes it different from other networks: its diversity, its call for action and its excellence. Characteristics that enables it to be a bridge between research and society.

In looking towards the future, Professor Marius Rubiralta underlined the priority of the coming Spanish Presidency in supporting the development of a knowledge society in Europe.

As was mentioned by Professor Hans Stoof, the habits and attitudes of society are changing, at a time when the global challenges are directly linked to scientific research, the most current example being Climate Change the responsibility of universities to open up and communicate to society is pivotal. If you would like to know what the situation is concerning a complex issue what would you do? In its Area of Exchange, that will start with the High-Level Workshop on Governance for a Low-Carbon Society, Atomium Culture will bring together leading thinkers from the different sectors of society (university, business, media and policy makers) in order to foster a comprehensive and open debate on the real content of issue of public concern. Not to debate about the problems, but to look at the existing solutions, the solutions that we have access to today, and what these leading thinkers would jointly suggest as a good way to move forward. To make accessible to the public at large the best thoughts on these matters from experts on the area in a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and intersectorial format.

Mr Baracchi Bonvicini underlined that Atomium Culture “has not been conceived to discuss abstractly of what should be done. It has been conceived as an instrument of action with a clear mission” and invited the actors engaged in the platform to be pro-active and use this platform to reach the shared ambitious mission (see the European Manifesto of Atomium Culture ).

As Bjorn Edlund, Vice-President of Communications for Shell, mentioned “you can make change happen, if you use knowledge and enthusiasm” with a clear mission ahead and have the capacity to communicate this to others.