Commission launches initiative to involve regions in the knowledge-based economy

July 18, 2003

Brussels, 17 Jul 2003

The European Commission's Research Directorate General is launching a new pilot action aimed at supporting regional measures to establish 'Regions of Knowledge' in the field of technological development and regional-level cooperation among universities and researchers.

Formally introduced by the European Parliament in its 2003 budget, the 'regions of knowledge' action is expected to strengthen the regions' involvement in creating a European Research Area (ERA), as well as supporting the Lisbon goals and the Barcelona objective of increasing research investment to three per cent of GDP by 2010.

As Dimitri Corpakis, Head of the sectoral regional aspects unit of DG Research, told CORDIS News, the one-year pilot action will also demonstrate the central role of knowledge in driving regional development. 'It is the first time that regions as such, within transnational and transregional partnerships, will be mobilised around the objective of making the knowledge economy a target for achieving more in terms of development.'

A total of 2.5 million euro has been earmarked for the implementation of the pilot action with specific emphasis on supporting regional measures of an experimental nature. 'By experimental, we mean here novel approaches to transnational and transregional cooperation among public-private partnerships that would give emphasis to knowledge intensive activities for local and regional economic development,' explained Mr Corpakis.

'The Commission has been a world leader in the past in launching and implementing initiatives on regional innovation strategies, but the key issues now are how to follow up these strategies and ensure they have a real lasting impact on their regions. As globalisation brings new issues to regional development, it is worth testing new approaches based on knowledge centred activities,' he added.

In addition to finding innovation strategies for regional development which are sustainable, Mr Corpakis believes that the development of regions towards the knowledge economy must be tailored to their specific circumstances. But 'the tools and models to do this on the ground are not well understood,' he explained.

The new pilot action seeks to address this knowledge gap by increasing collaboration between regions and involving local authorities, higher education institutions, as well as employers, trade unions, chambers of commerce and federations of industrialists. 'This way the right models can be identified and implemented,' said Mr Corpakis.

Asked whether the Commission could envisage integrating such an action into its Framework Programme, Mr Corpakis said that it was too early to speculate on the future of the pilot action. 'The Commission will evaluate the success of the action in due time and will draw the lessons of this experience to consider whether such an approach should be expanded into a larger scheme, and if so how this could be achieved.'

Further details of the types of actions to be funded by the pilot will be included in a call for proposals, due for publication during the coming weeks in the Official Journal of the European Union. Also, in order to inform potential participants and interested parties about the aims of the 'regions of knowledge' pilot action and the application process, an information meeting will be held on 24 July 2003 in Brussels.

For further information about the 'regions of knowledge' event, please contact:
Nadia Bouaouich

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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