The ecoRIS3 consortium attended the ‘Synergies between European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) & Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Funding: The Stairway to Excellence (S2E)’ conference organised by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Brussels on the 8th of March 2017.

The "Stairway to Excellence" (S2E) initiative is a pilot project funded by the European Parliament (EP) and focused on supporting European Regions and Member States in enhancing synergies in the use of different EU funding sources for research, development and innovation. The conference brought together key European stakeholders engaged in research and innovation policy at both national and regional levels.

One of the key messages was that regional & local authorities should play a key role in leadership and intermediation to promote better policies which encourage sustainable innovation ecosystems within RIS3 strategies. Building and investing in local capacity to access and participate in various EU funding programmes is critical in this sense. Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions encouraged regional stakeholders to utilise RIS3 strategies to drive the strategic development of research across 5 key areas: 1) investing in resources and ecosystems; 2) using a scientific approach to develop targeted policy; 3) use real life examples to sell success stories; 4) clarify and target your key messages to enlist support and 5) show your commitment by leading the strengthening of research & innovation – be a committed game changer.

Image: Co-Founder Klaudia Tolman’s summary of Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions' presentation at the Stairway to Excellence (S2E) conference organised by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Brussels 8/3/17.

Vladimir Sucha, Director-General of the European Commission’s DG JRC, believes that peer review and benchmarking between, industry, regional authorities and HEIs is key to meeting Europe’s Research, Development and Innovation targets. Dr John Hobbs from the Cork Institute of Technology suggests that “The ecoRIS3 consortium is strategically placed to provide peer reviewed learning across Europe, as the SWOT analysis and development of individual regional action plans will lead to the sharing of best practice actions and policy initiatives which are working in practice.”

Eileen Crowley, European Project’s Officer at the Cork City Council, Ireland believes that “the S2E conference was an ideal opportunity to connect with regional & local authorities from across Europe as it is obvious there are shared goals regarding supporting further economic impact from R&D results. The relationship between RIS3 and clusters is interesting and has relevance to Cork city and county. I’m looking forward to the impacts and learnings ecoRIS3 can provide for the Southern Regions’ innovation strategy in Ireland.”

An interesting analogy was used by Marc Lemaitre, Director General, DG REGIO who described Europe’s Research and Innovation ecosystem as being similar to an athlete’s body. He suggests that whilst Europe has a strong beating heart all of its muscles need to be working together to complete a transformation into an elite athlete that can compete at an international level. Mr Lemaitre urged Europe’s regional innovation ecosystem to collaborate and grow via Smart Specialisation “as combined we can have a stronger future together.”

For Further Information on ecoRIS3 Contact:

Yesenia Otamendi, Project Coordinator, Fomento de San Sebastián,

Tel.: +34 943482800 E-mail: [email protected]

Dr John Hobbs, Project Manager, Cork Institute of Technology,

Tel.: +353 214872160 E-mail: [email protected]