Brussels, 08 Dec 2004
Six members of the PAXIS network for innovative regions were honoured in Stuttgart, Germany, on 6 December, while one was singled out with a distinction for its outstanding performance.
PAXIS (pilot action of excellence on innovative start-ups) is funded under the 'research and innovation' activity of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), and supports the establishment and development of innovative companies across Europe. In particular, PAXIS funds the transfer of local and regional innovation excellence and provides a platform for cooperation and the exchange of knowledge between innovation stakeholders. The scheme funds thematic networks, projects and accompanying measures.
The 'Excellence in Innovation Transfer' award was presented to six of the 22 regional PAXIS members: Emilia-Romagna, Helsinki, Karlsruhe, Oxfordshire, Rhône-Alpes and Stuttgart. The evaluating panel decided that Emilia-Romagna was deserving of a special honour on account of its many activities in the field of innovation, including12 successful transfer schemes.
Verdiana Bandini from Emilia-Romagna told CORDIS News that she believes the award to be recognition for the region's success in creating a favourable environment for innovation, and especially for the founding of a high number of innovative start-ups.
'We have analysed the regional context to find out what is needed and what would be successful. We didn't analyse each practice on its own, but in a regional context,' said Ms Bandini. 'We worked a lot on involving local actors in the process, both to inform them and to let them network,' she added.
One very successful initiative was the organisation of study visits involving key local actors. The exchange led to a number of new initiatives, including a collaborative arrangement between an incubator in the Italian region and one in France. Incubators in France tend to be what other countries consider to be 'pre-incubators', and the French partners wanted to learn from Emilia-Romagna's experiences with a view to establishing a physical incubator, explained Ms Bandini.
Ms Bandini is the coordinator of KREO, a network bringing together four regions (Karlsruhe, Rhône-Alpes, Emilia-Romagna and Oxfordshire). It is perhaps a marker of the project's success that all four members were among those receiving awards in Stuttgart. The network's aim is to provide a permanent framework for the analysis, exchange and transfer of successful practices supporting the creation and development of innovative firms, with a particular focus on the relations between research and industry.
EU funding for the network is due to end in one year's time. The partners are currently working on consolidating the knowledge collected throughout the project in order to develop models or a check list to be used by other regions. Inter-regional contacts have been established that Ms Bandini believes will outlive the project's funding, although the partners do plan to seek new funding: 'The actors may have the intention to learn from each other, but the facilitating work is not paid for by anyone,' she told CORDIS News.
Distinguished regional representatives were in Stuttgart to collect their awards, and gave an insight into how their success had come about. A representative for the Lord Mayor of Helsinki claimed that 'we talk less and work more [...]. As good as we are at creating start-ups, we want more growth. We want to learn to develop business plans,' he said, illustrating that even the most successful European regions want to learn from others and improve.
The Mayor of Oxford, meanwhile, indicated that the region has 'taken to heart the message about working with others and has set up very successful networks.' The region has also invested heavily in its science base, she added.
Earlier in the day, Parliamentary Secretary of State of the German Federal Ministry for Economy and Labour Rezzo Schlauch outlined why the host region, Stuttgart, is one of Europe's most innovative and competitive regions. Stuttgart is the home of Daimler Chrysler, Bosch and Porsche, which Mr Schlauch described as 'diamonds of innovation'. While the first step for many companies wishing to innovate is to seek public sector support, 'in Stuttgart, business takes the lead,' he said.
For further information on PAXIS and the innovation transfer awards, please visit:
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