The stats aren’t pretty. Europe used to win the lion’s share of Nobel Prizes (say what you will about parochial voting): 73 percent in the first half of the 20th century. That fell to 33 percent in the second half, and just 19 percent if you count from 1995 to 2005.
Or take patents. Between 1991 and 2001, the share of patents granted to European companies in the US and in Europe declined compared to American companies.
Euro politicians are rightfully fearful. They’re midway through the Lisbon strategy, a set of goals established in 2000 meant to make Europe “the world’s most dynamic and competitive economy” by 2010. It isn’t quite there yet.
Now come proposals for a European Institute of Technology, aimed at sparking new research, and at aiding the transfer of technology from research institutions to commercial applications. There’s no real outline yet — this week’s call for consultation is looking for advice from the business, academic, and scientific communities as to how it might work.
Answer: give the hungry Romanians and Estonians the chance to turn themselves into billionaires the way Larry and Sergey have, and there will be incentive enough.