Speaking at a Brussels conference on food innovation, Debra Crew, Region President, PepsiCo West Europe identified five ways to help boost creativity, R&D investment and entrepreneurship across the continent.
Debra, pictured with Lisa McCooey, Deputy Secretary-General of the FDE, Maria Da Graça Carvalho MEP and European Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, told an audience of European Commission officials, industry leaders, European parliament members and national government representatives that to succeed, a number of barriers to innovation needed to be tackled.
Debra emphasised the importance of legislators and policymakers making fast and decisive decisions to help businesses embarking on new product lines and ways of working. She also called for a more coherent regulatory framework.
"Speed, scale and a smooth process are key factors in successful innovation,” she said. “EU directives and regulations do not stand in isolation and need to be part of a pro-innovation framework which enables, rather than creates, barriers to change.”
Debra also focused on encouraging SMEs to play an active role in R&D activity and the importance of creating powerful industry and NGO networks.
Finally, she highlighted the threat of discriminatory taxation. Debra said the food industry was a significant contributor to national economies "as a driver of growth and employment, generating 8% of EU GDP".
But she warned that higher tax bills were a disincentive to innovation and investment, citing PepsiCo’s new Hamburg R&D centre as the type of investment that might be under threat.
Stating that an ‘obesity tax’ would not help consumers, she insisted: "We believe that singling out one source of calories as a unique contributor to obesity will not make people healthier, reverse obesity trends and be a panacea for economic ills".