DEV'UP Centre-Val de Loire "until 31/12/2016 Centre-Val de Loire Regional Innovation Agency"
How can we stimulate European businesses, knowledge institutes, and relevant partners to join forces to discover new ideas which could lead to innovation? That is the central question in Beyond EDP, a European Interreg project formed by eleven partners from nine countries.
Stimulating crossovers The entrepreneurial discovery process(EDP) is a process of continual interaction between businesses, knowledge institutes and, preferably, users, which aids the developments of new ideas and discoveries ("entrepreneurial discoveries"); discoveries which, if focused and supported in mutual cohesion, can grow to become a coherent palette of innovations, eventually becoming new economic strengths.
The Beyond EDP project aims to strengthen the entrepreneurial discovery process in Europe, boosting the Regional Innovation smart specialisation strategy (RIS3, in short) adopted by Europe in 2014. Knowledge institutes and businesses need each other for innovation and to turn that innovation into saleable products and practical applications. SMEs can fulfil an important role here. Among SMEs are leaders, developers, early adopters, and followers. Most companies can be classed as followers, meaning that innovation is far from a priority for many entrepreneurs.
How do we stimulate innovation among these SMEs? Many European regions are faced with this problem; the Beyond EDP project was launched in 2014 for that reason. The participants share their knowledge and experience in various ways, including peer to peer reviews, joining forces to discover the success factors for stimulating innovation. They also want to know what they, as public authorities and management organisations, can do to facilitate that for companies and knowledge institutes, using tools such as financial stimulation. The aim is to create interesting crossovers on the intersections between sectors.
Creating space for spontaneous ideas Various innovation environments have been created in the European regions in recent years, often supported by the ERDF Operational Programme: hubs and campuses where businesses and knowledge institutes can work on "entrepreneurial discovery" together. Sometimes together at physical locations, but often also through virtual collaboration.
This already forms a part of the RIS3: the intention to create structures throughout Europe where cohesive innovation projects can constantly be developed. The idea is that bringing entrepreneurs, knowledge institutes, and users together will form a creative space where new ideas and discoveries can thrive. The themes and schools of thought must not be decided in advance. It is intended to allow ideas to spontaneously emerge from the dynamism that develops between the parties. Focused and cohesive support can help those ideas grow into promising new economic initiatives.
Europe still has a lot of room for improvement Europe still has a long way to go in this area. The number of innovation projects needs to increase, the cohesion between innovation environments could be better, and many more business from many different sectors could join these types of initiatives.
The Beyond EDP participants want to stimulate enthusiasm for innovation in their own region, bolstering the development of new creative environments everywhere, where businesses and institutes can continually raise ideas and find out which ones have the most potential. Those ideas can then receive focused support and be further developed into concrete initiatives. These are often niches: new ideas formed by clustering and contact between companies which may never have collaborated before because they are working on completely different things.
Beyond EDP: a key project for Europe The Beyond EDP project addresses the core of the European innovation strategy, making it a key project for achieving the goal that Europe wishes to achieve by 2020: an economy based on smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth(growth in which everyone has a fair share, and which therefore does not come at the cost of minority groups and stragglers). The Beyond EDP project stimulates relationships and cross-connections between regions, as well as between businesses, knowledge institutes, and other stakeholders.
The trick is to make innovation everyone's business. Not only for large companies, but also for smaller SME companies, whether they are focused on high tech or on craftsmanship. Not only in the cities, but also in the countryside.
Entrepreneurial discovery comes to life in creative environments. The more parties that meet each other, the broader the creativity and the greater the chance of creating something new which, in turn, leads to other new ideas. Innovation, by definition, requires teamwork.