Brussels, 07 Jul 2005
The Commission has published a set of strategic guidelines establishing the key priorities for the next generation of EU cohesion policy programmes, including a strong focus on research and innovation.
According to the guidelines, the specific nature of research and technological development (RTD) must be taken into consideration when implementing regional cohesion policy. 'In particular, RTD requires close interaction between the players to encourage the formation of poles of excellence which are needed to reach critical mass,' they state.
RTD in the less developed Member States and regions should be developed around existing poles of excellence, the guidelines argue, in order to avoid an excessive dispersion of resources. Investments should also complement EU priorities set out in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and the renewed Lisbon agenda, they add.
The communication identifies the following key actions for cohesion policy in the field of RTD:
- strengthening cooperation among businesses and between businesses and public research/higher education institutions by supporting the creation of regional and trans regional clusters of excellence;
- supporting RTD activities in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and enabling SMEs to access RTD services in publicly-funded research institutions;
- support for regional cross-border and transnational initiatives aimed at strengthening research collaboration and capacity building;
- strengthening R&D capacity building, including ICT, research infrastructure and human capital in areas with significant growth potential.
Furthermore, in regions eligible under the 'Convergence' objective, funding can contribute to developing RTD and education infrastructure including high-speed data networks, and equipment and instrumentation in public research institutions and businesses, provided such investments are directly linked to regional economic development objectives.
Investments in innovation, meanwhile, are described in the guidelines as an 'overarching priority for cohesion policy throughout the Union'. The main objective of such financing should be to promote a business environment that encourages the production, dissemination and use of new knowledge by firms, they add.
The specific actions in support of innovation highlighted in the guidelines include:
- establishing poles of excellence that bring together high-tech SMEs around research and technological institutions, or by developing regional clusters around large companies;
- providing business support services to enable enterprises, particularly SMEs, to increase competitiveness and to internationalise by seizing the opportunities created by the internal market;
- ensuring full exploitation of Europe's strengths in the area of eco-innovations through the introduction of environmental management systems;
- promoting entrepreneurship, including in schools, facilitating the creation and development of new firms, and promoting spin-out companies from research institutions or firms.
The draft guidelines will be adopted once the relevant texts have been approved by the European Parliament and the Council. The Commission is currently inviting all interested parties, including regional and local authorities, to submit their observations on the new guidelines.
For further information, please consult the following web address:
http:///europa.eu.int/ comm/regional_polic y/sources/docoffic/2007/osc/index_en.htm