This policy brief explores the importance of research and innovation in less-developed European regions to promote regional convergence within the European Union. The New Cohesion Policy, and its regional component, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), dedicates 32% of its budget to less developed regions (GDP is less than 75% of the EU average) through the promotion of research and innovation policies spearheaded by the Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3). For those regions, research and innovation is at the top of the policymakers’ agendas as it is seen as a pathway to promote convergence and reduce disparities. Thus, the EU Cohesion Policy aims to promote and support the overall harmonious development of its Member States and regions.
The regional approach to find contextualised place-sensitive and place-based innovation policies makes Interreg Europe projects the ideal space for policy learning for less-developed regions. This policy brief features five policy recommendations using the experience of Interreg Europe projects to inspire policymakers to design the most adapted and contextualised place-based policies. The given recommendations were to promote economic diversification into related industries, promote technology diffusion and formation of start-ups and spinoffs, to use public procurement of innovation (PPI) to develop innovation capacities, and to promote an entrepreneurial mindset and an innovation culture.
Some of the solutions include designing better smart specialisation strategies, investing in human capital and infrastructures, having better urban-rural linkages, and investing in quality institutions and regional administrative capacity. Furthermore, it focuses on fundamental aspects to promote economic convergence and catch-up in less developed regions, namely understanding the context, promoting technology diffusion, and interregional learning and collaboration.
To know more about the importance of research and innovation in less-developed European regions to promote regional convergence within the European Union, explore the policy brief on innovation in less developed regions.