Two days of debate on the theme of innovation were organized on 26 and 27 September 2007 at Margaux, near Bordeaux, by Oséo, a public body created to finance and support innovation in French small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and by the Regional Council of Aquitaine. These "Entretiens de Margaux", aspiring to become a "Davos of Innovation", will be held again in 2009. The aim is to lend dynamism to - and transform - innovation in France, by stimulating activity on the part of the lead actors in the field, the SMEs.
André-Yves Portnoff took part in this meeting between 200 personalities from all parts of the world and in this issue he presents a special dossier, placing the lessons of the "Entretiens de Margaux" in the context of events that have happened since and of a variety of recent works. Alongside the articles by Jean-Paul Colin, Edgar Morin, Hervé Sérieyx and Jean-François Zobrist, André-Yves Portnoff identifies the main elements of interest for France and also for Europe.
The situation is grave, he says, diagnosing a desperate shortage of technical and organizational innovation. The economic and social consequences of this could turn out to be increasingly serious, for lack of sufficient investment from the major industrial groups and for want of long-term vision in industrial matters. As a matter of the utmost urgency, a context must be created in which SMEs can express and exploit their innovativeness, and can grow to take over from the ageing large industrial groups. This involves the elimination of the many existing obstacles, more humanistic methods of management, more partnerships and, more generally, a genuine cultural revolution that breaks with excessive state centralism and a reductive Cartesianism, a revolution that has been slow to emerge in France and in the European Union.