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This S2E Policy Insight summarises the main lessons learnt from the S2E National Events and demonstrates how the S3 and synergies between different European national funding can help closing the innovation gap across European territories.
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Within Europe, considerable territorial disparity in terms of research and innovation (R&I) performance appears along several dimensions such as EU15-EU13, Northern-Southern countries and within many Member States (MSs). The two biggest European funds - Horizon 2020 and the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) – aim at supporting the development of European competitiveness, growth and knowledge generation.

The European Commission Stairway to Excellence (S2E) initiative is centred on the provision of assistance to EU Member States and Regions with the aim of closing the innovation gap and promoting R&I excellence across Europe.

Besides providing analytical work on the purpose of reducing information barriers between different R&I stakeholders, S2E organised national events in each EU13 Member State, which took place during 2015/2016 and provided a unique platform for a better understanding of the European and national R&I ecosystem, for exchanging experience as well as raising awareness of the actions needed to enable cooperation and synergies among R&I actors.

This first issue of S2E Brief Series summarises the lessons learnt from the S2E National Events and demonstrates;

  • Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) play a key role in fostering an efficient and inclusive Research and Innovation (R&I) ecosystem by creating the right framework for focused investments based on selected high value added priorities and a shared vision of territorial development.
  • Building synergies can contribute to two complementary objectives: helping to close the innovation divide across European territories and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of public policy intervention.
  • Synergies between ESIF and other funding programmes (e.g. COSME, Horizon 2020) could maximise the specific value added of S3 investments such as the capacity to support effectively research capacity building and the exploitation of research results for raising the overall social/economic impact of European R&I.
  • Quality of R&I "governance" (e.g. long-term planning, monitoring and evaluation, stakeholders' involvement) appears as the key factor for achieving a successful implementation of R&I investments under the current S3.