The Vanguard Initiative - New Growth Through Smart Specialisation - is driven by a political commitment made by some 30 European regions to use their smart specialisation strategies to boost new growth through bottom-up entrepreneurial innovation and industrial renewal in European priority areas.
It has its foundations at the regional level. EU regions are the closest policy link to the bottom-up growth dynamics necessary for the renewal of our industrial fabric through their proximity to innovative partnerships and clusters. Such partnerships and clusters form eco-systems that are the catalyst for fast-growing innovative SMEs. Regional innovation ecosystems can and do develop solutions for significant societal challenges while delivering on the EU’s ambitions for improved international competitiveness.
The Vanguard Initiative seeks to develop interregional cooperation and multi-level governance for supporting clusters and regional eco-systems to focus on smart specialisation in priority areas for transforming and emerging industries through a two-way interactive process. A first, top-down phase, where regional authorities identify strategic topics (called “Pilot” in the Vanguard jargon): so far, advanced manufacturing, nano-enabled products and bioeconomy have been selected. A second, bottom-up phase, where the cooperation between stakeholders of different regions identify specific topics to work on (called “Demo cases”). The aim of Vanguard is to focus in particular on pilots and large-scale demonstrators where synergies between different regions are necessary to overcome the substantial size of the challenge and help the deployment of new technologies with high TRL (usually above 5). The Bioeconomy Pilot concerns the implementation of synergies in new biobased value chains cross regions based on their smart specialisations. Its main objective is to develop new integral Biobased value chains and new connections between sectors as chemistry, agro, wood & paper, cosmetics and energy, leading to new interregional business opportunities and co-investment through interregional cooperation and partnerships for co-investment, exchange of information and ideas.
The Bioeconomy Pilot is currently focussing on 7 cases for Joint Demonstration of which 2 are dealing with agri-food issues:
1. Food & Feed from Agrofood Waste
Challenge: Extracting functional foods and feed from different waste streams, such as fish, domesticated animals, cereals, fruit, and vegetables.
2. Food and Feed Ingredients from Algae
Challenge: Extraction of high value products from microalgae for the food & feed sector
Randstad Region (NL) and Lombardy
East-Netherlands (NL), Emilia-Romagna (IT), South-Netherlands (NL), Scotland (UK), North-Netherlands (NL), Tampere (FI), Flanders (BE), West Finland + Central Finland (FI), Wallonia (BE), North Rhine-Westphalia (DE), Skåne (SE), Andalusia (ES), Värmland (SE), Navarra (ES), Brandenburg (DE), Basque Country (ES), Baden-Württemberg (DE), Lodzkie (PL), Asturias (ES), Malopolska (PL), Basilicata (IT)
Valentina Pinna, Lombardy Region, Italy, Presidency - Delegation to the EU – Responsible for Research and Innovation
Bart Verschoor, Province of Zuid-Holland, part of Randstad Region, Netherlands, Senior Policy Advisor on Bioeconomy
Additional information and documents are available: