ELAt, the Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen triangle, is a geographical area of high-tech activity in the Dutch, Belgian and German cross-border region. The total ELAt area covers 14,269 square kilometres, has a population of nearly 5.9 million, a workforce of 2.9 million and an aggregate GDP of € 157.5 billion (2005). High-tech, knowledge based industries account for a direct share of 20% in the GDP. The driving force of these industries creates large multiplier effects on the economy. The estimated R&D spent in ELAt is four billion euros, representing 2.5% of ELAt’s GDP.

Knowledge is clearly the driving force behind prosperity and wellbeing in the global economy. The speed and intensity at which new scientific and technological knowledge is transformed into socially and economically relevant activities is well known. This was clearly stated at the ‘March 2000 summit’ in Lisbon when the European heads of state and government leaders gave themselves the challenge of turning Europe into the world’s leading knowledge economy by 2010. Easier said than done. Today, eight years after the summit and with only two years left to reach the target, there is little or no indication that Europe will be able to deliver on the promise. Recent studies clearly indicate that Europe is not moving forward as it should have done and certainly is still removed from reaching the Lisbon 2010 target of 3% GDP spent on Research and Development.

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