The member states of today’s European Union were once the heartland of the technical revolution that initiated worldwide industrialization. European companies contributed decisively to the development of modern cars and engines, the emergence of a modern aircraft industry, but also to innovation in the bio-chemical and pharmaceutical sectors. The creation of a common market by the EU member states has not only facilitated trade, but has also contributed to more cooperation in research and development, which has helped the EU and its member states to remain among the world’s centres of innovation.
Innovation in the Automotive Sector
The car building industry is rich in tradition and one of the oldest of Europe’s manufacturing sectors. However, this does not mean that car engineering has stagnated. Today, Europe’s flagship automotive industries such as Volkswagen, Daimler Benz, BMW, Renault, Peugeot, Fiat, Seat and Volvo are on the world’s top list of innovative car producers. In addition, the industry is in the process of being digitised in order to further accelerate and modernise production processes. Companies that specialise in digitisation are Industrie 4.0 in Germany, Fabbrica Intelligente in Italy and the Dutch enterprise Smart Industry. In addition, European car manufacturers invest in new technologies that help to reduce exhaust gas emission, replace gasoline with renewable energies and last but not least, make driving more enjoyable with the help of parking sensors and other electronic aides.
Innovation in Environmental Techniques
Europe and the EU also have the reputation of striving to become more and more eco-friendly by producing less carbon dioxides and by creating new technologies in the sector of renewable energy. Most prominent is the generation of wind energy, be it in large offshore wind parks or on a smaller scale in rural environments. The European wind industry is united in the European Wind Energy Association. Some important member companies are Iberdrola, Siemens and GE Renewable Energy. Similarly, Europe stands for innovative industries in the photovoltaic sector, which produces solar energy. Here we find numerous medium-sized companies that help private customers create their own energy. Intersolar Europe is a yearly exhibition that takes place in Munich and attracts the world’s most important representatives of the solar business.
Innovation in the IT and Software Development Sectors
The IT sector has grown in importance ever since internet use has become common to most households and everybody owns a smartphone. Here Europe is lagging a bit behind the great IT nations USA, Japan and Taiwan, but there are notable exceptions. The German SAP is famous for its enterprise software that keeps thousands of enterprises running thanks to its innovative office technology. In recent years, it has also purchased several businesses that sell cloud-based services in order to keep up with the latest trends.
Innovation in Technical Engineering
Engineering is one of the most solid bases of the EU’s production, and Europe has always been famous for its innovative approaches and its ability to generate specific solutions for a variety of international clients. Companies like Siemens are known throughout the world, but there are many more innovative and capable engineering companies across Europe. One example is Italian Salini Impregilo enterprise, which is the main contractor of one of the world’s most significant hydro-energy projects, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The European Institute for Innovation and Technology provides a platform for many companies engaged in the fields of health, mitigation of climate change, sustainable energies, as well as information and communication technologies.