RIS3CAT Communities are associations of companies and stakeholders in the Catalan R&I and production systems with a bottom-up focus in economic transformation.
RIS3CAT Communities are an essential and innovative element when combining both the necessity of the RIS3 implementation and the development of the EDP process. In order to achieve a real transformation of the economic sectors in Catalonia in terms of RIS3 and EDP, it is necessary to join efforts from many different stakeholders, usually with very different perspectives (and in the end they also become beneficiaries of the instrument): companies, business associations, cluster organisations, universities, research centres, technology centres, foundations and institutions linked to R&I, or the public as users, consumers and citizens.The Communities allow the alignment of those stakeholders and different interests through a bottom-up approach and a 2 stage competitive process:
• Grouping the stakeholders in associations with a minimum of 8 different members with a common economic sector or technological sphere and the obligation of launching cooperation projects under the excellence principle.
• Establishing common agendas for the R&I, public sector and production systems in those economic sectors with an operating Community, aligning resources and policies.
• Promoting mid and long-term R&I common programmes based on the feedback and results of the projects launched, integrating visions from different agents, with especial attention to the SMEs as innovation agents.
The RIS3CAT Communities is implemented by ACCIÓ Agency with a total investment amount of 54M euros of ERDF funding and at least 10 people involved in different roles of analysis, support and evaluation for the Communities. Each Community has its own coordination team.
Evidence of success
There are 11 Communities already working with more than 63 projects launched and 407 beneficiaries. There is a large participation of SMEs and the involvement of the main technological and research centres and facilities in Catalonia. The projects are quickly escalating and the interest of potential participants in projects and new Communities has increased fourfold. There are 44.1 M euros of ERDF funding mobilising 116.7 M euros of induced investment in R+D+i for 407 beneficiaries and
The associations are powerful but complex structures and governance is key for the successful development of the Communities and their projects. The coordination for the implementation of the projects of very different kinds of partners is critical and difficult.
Potential for learning or transfer
The co-ordination of very different agents – in specific projects but beyond that to new common strategies and R+D+I agendas, including the public administration – creates long-lasting effects over the different economic sectors. From the initial associations it is possible an ‘organic growth’ into a specific economic sector, as well as spill-over effects over those other sectors somewhat linked as stakeholders.
The two-tier accreditation process and working plan development allows the identification first of viable associations and then of potentially successful projects. The process is relatively simple and can be adapted to any open call or any public instrument using partnerships in its core.