Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini, President of Atomium-EISMD

Mr Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini, President of Atomium-EISMD, opens the conference. Listen to the opening speech. Please find below the speech in English.


Welcome to the public launch and first conference of Atomium Culture.

I want to thank the Honorary President Valery Giscard d’Estaing who unexpectedly proposed that I open the conference.

Many among you already know Atomium Culture, that today is presented to Europe, and know that we are not launching a project that needs to be realized but -after many years of preliminary coordination and work among the actors engaged- the first permanent platform for European excellence.

This platform engages, for the first time some of the most authoritative actors within research, media and industry in Europe – promoting dynamic, coordinated and intersectorial interactions – in order to foster and disseminate knowledge at a truly European level. This first permanent platform has made the vision for Europe -that inspired its creation- tangible, concrete and accessible.

A vision that comes from the impellent necessity of doing. That is based on the conviction of the utility of an open, coordinated and concrete cooperation between the three key actors of the knowledge society at a European level. To redefine the role of these three actors in relation to society.

We all know that to avoid to remain behind despite its current preeminent position in many fields, Europe must adapt to a new reality where knowledge is and will be our major strength and our priority.

But if the old methods do not work, you need to look at the problem from a different angle and start again beginning from our strengths. What we present today is a new vision; promoted and shared by some of the most authoritative European universities, newspapers and businesses, that have decided to change from a more traditional approach and to accept some important challenges for the progress of European society that naturally also includes their own development.

The first challenge has been to accept and try a new –and thus uncertain- undertaking, investing ones name, authoritativeness and resources when everything was just a project, in order to contribute to build the necessary structure to turn the project into reality.

The success of this first challenge has shown that Europe is not an “old continent”, but that it still wants to learn and to adapt itself to the new conditions; that there is space for good ideas and that these can become reality; that we can change our habits and most importantly our mentality to adapt to a new reality.

The next challenge, starting from today, will be to make this vision beneficial, using the instrument created together – this permanent platform – to bring us gradually to a new stage where knowledge can move easily, in a coordinated and reliable way among the different actors of society and where the public is involved and informed, at a European level, about the best results.

John Locke said, “The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others.”

A vision that intends to avoid the dispersion of knowledge into the many alleys of sectors and nationalities, thanks to a recognizable and reliable coordinating nucleus. A better informed society is a society with a stronger decision-making capacity.

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. To make the whole, as already Aristotle said, greater than the simple sum of its parts. And, I add, also better!

Europe has some of the most authoritative universities, reliable and free media and innovative businesses in the world. What we lack is a coordinated and transversal interaction among the various sectors of European society, a collaboration that can overcome our well known weaknesses.

We should not start reinventing the wheel. What is necessary is to increase and coordinate the movement of knowledge and the connections among the already existing institutions, to implement this and bring the best results to the attention of the European citizens. Interactions increase the value of new knowledge exponentially. It is not the size that makes a brain intelligent, but the number and speed of its connections.

Before all others, some actors of the European excellence felt the duty to support and promote this change with a new solution. We need to make the access and communication of the most innovative ideas easy and reliable. To reward talent and commitment, to give science the space it deserves and the most innovative ideas the right attention. The attention given to a good idea is an indispensible part of its success.

The reliability of information is a fundamental aspect of this vision, since the amount of information and disinformation can only be fought through reputed and reliable information. In this context, the role of the newspapers engaged is and will be of fundamental importance for the future knowledge society, both with regard to the traditional printed paper and their internet websites -or the one of Atomium Culture that will be at their service and at the service of the actors involved and the public.

Our mission will be to change the “culture” of how European institutions and citizens interact, starting by ourselves.

It is not enough to think about the specific sector, we need to think about society as a whole and, to start, to the sectors that are its leading actors. To reach a knowledge that is inclusive, a fundamental element in bringing Europe to a real knowledge society.

Atomium Culture is not a Think Tank, it 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. As backdrop, Atomium Culture looks at a united and strong Europe, as a necessary part of global development.

We are here today not only to discuss about the problems. We are here to look at this challenge from a different perspective and to what can be done together to implement this realistic and coordinated solution, that will be operational starting tomorrow. If everyone is moving forward together, the success takes care of itself! Thank you.