Using Europe’s regions to generate knowledge

May 15, 2006

Brussels, 12 May 2006

Europe’s regions have a key role to play in the creation of a knowledge society in Europe, and the ability of the EU to reach its target of investing 3% of GDP in research and development. A conference is being held today in Brussels to promote and stimulate partnerships of the three main categories of players: regional and local authorities; universities and research centres; and enterprise and other economic actors. By fostering closer partnerships at regional level, and encouraging their participation in specific projects at European level, the European Commission hopes to demonstrate the considerable added value that can be derived from such co-operation, which can be of benefit to Europe as a whole.

The current proposal for the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development 2007-2013 includes two actions specifically targeted at Europe’s regions. The first, Regions of Knowledge, aims to strengthen the research potential of the regions by bringing together regional authorities, universities, research centres, enterprises and other interested parties. The second, Unlocking the research potential of the EU’s convergence and outermost regions, looks to stimulate the greater participation of such regions in EU research activities. Measures could include twinning, networks for exchanging know-how and expertise, secondments, acquisition of research equipment, awareness raising activities.

The European Commission is also proposing more use of Structural Funds to support activities that enhance a region’s economic growth and competitiveness and this would include greater levels of investment in Research and Development.

The Brussels conference brings together representatives of all Europe’s major regions to examine the various strands that come together to create a regional dimension to European research. Three “success stories” will be presented at the conference to showcase existing good practice.

Mentoring European Knowledge of Chemical Regions (MentorChem)

MentorChem is a co-operation between Saxony-Anhalt (Germany), Lombardy (Italy) and Asturias (Spain) to look how best to develop clusters based on expertise in the chemical industry. The main topics included support for cluster development, regional research competences in chemistry, regional strategies for the implementation of the REACH Directive and the exchange of experience between chemical sites. By increasing the information about research activities in the three regions, the project partners are seeking to promote joint co-operation projects. An impact assessment of the REACH directive in Asturias was discussed with the project partners and representatives from politics, science and industry, so that everyone can learn from the experiences of others. The projects has also been able to bring the view of regional actors to the Sustainable Chemistry Technology Platform.

Website: www.mentorchem.net

BlueBioNet – stimulating regional development in maritime regions

Through exploring the possibility for science to help develop new sectors, increasing private investment in research and innovation in these regions and increasing awareness of possibilities for co-operation, the BlueBioNet project seeks to stimulate development in traditional coastal regions that are experiencing the upheaval of industrial restructuring. The project has focused on the development of applied marine biotechnology within the regions and has worked to exchange best practice, and identify research organisations and potential partners in private firms. The highlight was the organisation of brokerage events which not only brought the major players together, but provided an opportunity for cross-fertilisation of ideas. Project partners are from Lower Saxony (Germany), Andalucia (Spain), Scotland (UK) and Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur (France)

IN.TRACK – Insular regions knowledge tracker

The IN.TRACK project brings together 4 island regions – Canary Islands, Madeira, Crete and Sicily – to develop appropriate methodology for technological foresight within regions. Co-operation within the project will allow the four islands to exchange experience. Based on a common vision of knowledge-based development on their islands, they are developing resources, tools, methodologies and models. By working together in this way, the 4 islands hope to seize the opportunities offered by a knowledge-driven world to improve their regional competitiveness and enhance job prospects for their populations. Based on their experiences to date, they are examining the possibility of opening the project to other European islands.

Useful web links:

  • Regional Dimension of the ERA
www.cordis.lu/era/regions.htm

  • Information on the Seventh Framework programme proposals:
http://ec.europa.eu/research/future/index_en.cfm

  • Innovating regions in Europe
www.innovating-regions.org

Item source: MEMO/06/196 Date: 12/05/2006

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