The first week of May 2015 will be remembered as Europe redux, the week that heralded significant milestones for Europe. On the 9th of May, Europe day marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations. The 8th of May produced decisive results in UK elections despite almost unanimous expectations to the contrary. The 7th of May marked the end of the two days of a seminal edition of the European Business Summit while on the 6th of May, the European Commission launch the much awaited Digital Single Market Strategy.
It was equally an important week for Europe in the world, the 6th of May marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the European Union, two of the world’s largest economies and populations. This significant milestone was celebrated with a special visit of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, to Beijing on 5th and 6th May.
2015 had been a pivotal year overall for Europe and its relations with major global players, particularly with China. Over the past few years, the EU and China have been cooperating closely on a wide range of issues from trade to exchanges to innovation cooperation. In 2015, this cooperation strengthened significantly with China and Chinese actors actively participating in major initiatives across Europe. From CeBIT where China was the partner country to the European Business Summit, EU – China Cooperation is evident and growing. Major EU countries have joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a new institutional development organisation on the international stage. This rapidly increasing momentum in relations is expected to be formalised in concrete long-term agreements on cooperation at the EU – China summit in June 2015. Mogherini pointed out that that EU – China trade volume has more than doubled since they set up a strategic partnership and both sides were keen to see it grow.
These are the bedrock reasons for the European Young Innovators Forum’s keen interest in EU – China relations, bolstered by the views of our community of young innovators and entrepreneurs across Europe, who see China as a major market and significant partner and would like to increase their understanding of and access to the Chinese market, especially as they scale-up. EYIF works closely with a range of Chinese actors to facilitate this, in particular Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider present in 170 countries and regions, serving over one-third of the world’s population, who is a strong actor in EU – China relations.
Throughout 2014 – 2015, Huawei has been significantly active is enabling and facilitating EU – China relations on e-skills, tech, innovation, SMART Cities and citizen to citizen co-operation. Their actions and impact has been evident at CeBIT 2015 where they were the largest Chinese partner and exhibitor to the Mobile World Congress where they premiered brand new products meant for their global markets to the European Business Summit, where they were the main partner of this seminal EU business programme. More similar activities and initiatives are planned for 2015 – 2016 as Huawei develops its pan-European presence. Huawei is keen to continue innovating in Europe, tapping European talent and skills to deliver new products, jobs and growth. Huawei has rapidly scaled-up in Europe, with almost 10,000 staff based in Europe, of whom 1200 are working in R&D at 18 sites located in 8 European countries (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and the UK), all countries with a large EYIF community.
Further, Huawei announced the launch of its European Research Institute (ERI) at the European Business Summit, which will be located in Leuven, Belgium, and act as a key tool for helping Europe achieve the targets of its Digital Single Market Strategy, managing the company’s growing European R&D facilities.
Huawei has worked closely with EYIF on the long-term joint programme InnoApps, now in its third year and like both Huawei and EYIF, growing in both scope and impact. InnoApps empowers young people to fulfil their potential, helping them with the tools and training to learn, code and network while building SMART City Digital solutions. InnoApps in the only EU – China app competition on the SMART Cities domain. By offering commercialisation and mentoring support, InnoApps stands out clearly among app competitions.
The 2014 – 2015 InnoApps saw the best apps for smarter cities built by joint teams of young app developers from Europe and China, selected at the final event of the InnoApps contest in Brussels by a jury of well-known experts and awarded by Robert Madelin, Director-General of European Commission DG CONNECT. The 2015 InnoApps will be larger with both online and offline workshops on coding and e-skills in several member states of the union, contributing to the Digital Single Market goals that young Europeans learn coding and other digital skills that will make them active participants in the digital economy.
EYIF looks forward to continued cooperation with Huawei on InnoApps and other initiatives that will facilitate closer EU – China relations which are mutually beneficial for two of the world’s largest economies and populations.