Two recent reports issued by the European Commission ("Strengthening Innovation in Europe's Regions" and "Harnessing Globalisation") that address the challenges of globalisation and how to strengthen innovation dynamics at the regional level, highlight the role policymakers and associated stakeholders can play in building more resilient regional economies. These two documents also highlight the need to continue efforts to reform research and innovation ecosystems and remove bottlenecks and implement more efficient business-science cooperation, especially in lagging regions. The need for greater regional empowerment and the implementation of regional smart specialisation strategies are highlighted as key enabling factors to meet these challenges.

Furthermore, the recent communication on smart specialisation calls for more strategic interregional cooperation and investment across regions, representing a clear opportunity for Interreg Europe project partners to support these processes.

Policy Actions

As part of the European Commission’s policy response to these ongoing challenges DG Regio and DG Grow will be supporting the implementation of two new initiatives:

  • Tailored support for the specific challenges of regions facing industrial transition; and
  • Setting up interregional innovation partnerships.

Together these initiatives will form a policy and funding tool kit to help regions invest in their niche areas of competitive strengths and create new industrial value chains. It is likely that a call for interest regarding these initiatives will be launched in autumn 2017 with the aim to set up the interregional innovation partnerships towards the end of 2017 and running throughout 2018.

Interreg Europe project partners are at the forefront of testing new policy approaches that seek to ensure close alignment between smart specialisation priorities and research and innovation actions. By enhancing framework conditions, notably through the implementation of pilot projects, Interreg Europe project partners can contribute to the setting up of these new interregional innovation (investment) partnerships. The experience of regions involved in the Vanguard Initiative have proved very useful in the design of these new initiatives.

Furthermore, many Interreg Europe project stakeholders have recognised the role innovation clusters can play in helping policy makers deliver and support regional growth and competitiveness objectives, notably through the engagement of SMEs that in turn contribute and support investment in regional innovation actions.  

A number of Interreg Regional partners are expected to participate in the GROW your REGIOn: Boosting Smart Interregional Collaboration through Clusters 8-9 November 2017, Valencia, Spain which will actively contribute to the debate concerning the setup of these new interregional innovation partnerships.

Image credit: Photo by Aaron Barnaby on Unsplash