Commission gives new support for EU regions working together on high-tech projects
The aim of this pilot action is to help these partnerships scale up their projects in priority sectors such as big data, bioeconomy, resource efficiency, advanced manufacturing or cybersecurity.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: "Regions with matching competitive strengths will be able to bring their projects to a common big table. With the right support from the EU, their good ideas will turn into innovative products, among which you will find the European innovation stars of tomorrow."
Following a Commission call for interest launched in September 2017, eight interregional partnerships have been selected, with one or several coordinating regions in the lead:
- A partnership involving 8 regions led by Noord-Brabant (NL), Flanders (BE) and Norte (PT) will develop joint projects in the field of 3D printing;
- A group of 9 regions led by Flanders (BE) will work together in the bio-economy sector;
- Bretagne (FR), together with 3 regions and Estonia, will focus on cybersecurity;
- Lombardia (IT) and 7 other regions have chosen the circular economy, and more specifically de- and re-manufacturing, as their speciality;
- Toscana (IT), 21 other regions and Estonia will dedicate common efforts to develop new solutions in high-tech farming;
- Scotland (UK) and País Vasco (ES) are coordinating a group of 16 regions for joint projects in the field of marine renewable energy. The Norwegian region of Sogn og Fjordane is also associated.
- Andalucía (ES) and 5 other regions have defined sustainable buildings as their thematic priority;
- Andalucía (ES) and Emilia-Romagna (IT) lead a group of 9 regions who will come up with innovative projects in the fields of traceability and big data in agri-food.
These partnerships will benefit from support from special teams established within the Commission, involving experts from several thematic departments. The experts will provide advice on how to best combine EU funds to finance projects, for example.
In addition to this hands-on support from the Commission, each partnership can benefit from external advisory service up to a value of €200,000 for scale-up and commercialisation activities. The money comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The work with the partnerships will start in January 2018 and will run until 2019. This pilot will test new approaches to interregional cooperation and provide the European Commission with evidence to feed into the reflection on smart specialisation after 2020.
Europe's regions need to become more competitive and resilient in the context of major changes brought by globalisation. By working together, they can move themselves up the value chain.
The EU has been played a key role in unlocking EU regions' growth potential by helping them invest in their niche areas of competitive strength (the so-called "smart specialisation" process).
To date 120 regional smart specialisation strategies have been adopted. Their implementation is supported by €40 billion of Cohesion Policy funds.
This interregional partnerships pilot is part a new set of actions presented by the Commission in July 2017, in order to take smart specialisation one step further and boost innovation in EU regions, so they can all hold their own in a globalised economy.