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Framework Document on EDP

The Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth puts high premium on innovation policies. European regions are playing an important role in this respect as they are seen as providing the territorial space for innovation networks. More precisely, regions are encouraged to develop regional innovation smart specialization strategies (RIS3) to foster endogenous development. Within RIS3, “entrepreneurial discovery processes” (EDP) are key to place‐based innovation by bringing together public authorities, knowledge institutes, business and civil society for creating new ideas and practices (Foray, David & Hall 2011). The 2014 reform of the EU cohesion policy has made RIS3 a strong political tool, linking the absorption of structural funds to the elaboration of regional priorities (McCann & Ortega‐Argilés 2016). The Interreg project “Beyond EDP”, launched in 2016 with 11 partners from nine European countries, seeks to take stock of the experiences European regions have made with entrepreneurial discoveries. In a collaborative endeavour, the consortium partners are analysing the design and implementation of EDP in different regional contexts. The final objective of the Beyond EDP project is to provide the most efficient methodologies and practices to policy makers across Europe to enable them to implement effective RIS3 for their own region. In a nutshell, the project is about good EDP management practices.
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With this framework document, the project consortium is presenting its common vision on EDP management in the various phases of the policy cycle. The arguments presented here are derived from both a review of the existing theoretical literature and the experiences of the partner regions. After having analysed the concept of smart specialization in quite some detail (chapter 2), we will discuss the goals of EDP (chapter 3), its actors and processes (chapter 4), its governance structures and contextual factors as well as transregional dimensions (chapter 5). The conceptual elaboration will be enriched by a “view from below”, which presents EDP governance structures and innovation practices in the partner regions (chapter 6). In doing so, we will be able to identify the implementation of EDP but also to point to potential shortcomings and bottlenecks in the process. The framework document is not intended to provide final results and policy recommendations. It rather serves to structure debates and to provide a stepping stone for the analysis of the reality of EDP in European regions.