Most good ideas are inspired by the expert recognition of a need. The trouble is that the solution to satisfying that need is often beyond the resources of the idea formulator. Companies in industry usually know what they need by way of technology, and they can usually buy it. But where the need involves some measure of new or extensive R&D effort and/or a better scientific understanding of process phenomena, the resource problem reappears.
Large centralized economic areas – the U.S., Russia/Siberia (and certainly the former USSR) and now China – can usually arrange for the essential critical mass to happen in the context of R&D projects, especially those involving a range of skills and knowledge and/or data generation and processing on a large scale. Whatever the political and social reasons for European integration, the EU was certainly in origin an “economic” community, and the gradual development of funding structures for collaborative actions had the effect of making it easier to achieve a critical mass in science and technology projects through cross-border collaboration.