As part of its Lagging Regions project, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) organized a webinar within the framework of its horizontal activities on the 2nd of July 2020. The objective of the event was to provide hands-on experience and concrete examples of how to manage and coordinate interregional collaboration and across different levels of governance, mainly national and regional ones. The webinar developed around the case of the Italian Agency for Territorial 'Cohesion' that has been working on a guide that aims at supporting Italian regions in implementing international cooperation instruments. In addition to being an opportunity to share valuable experience and knowledge, the webinar was appreciated both by the less and the more experienced participants. This reflects one of the main goals of the Lagging Regions project, namely to provide tools that can be tailored to regional specificities. While the benefits and value of S3 and international cooperation were well-understood by the discussants, it emerged that there is strong need for help to design actions for raising awareness and encouraging engagement of local stakeholders, as well as persuading regional and national administrations to invest the required human and financial resources.
Intermediary and interface organisations (funding agencies, technology transfer organisations, sectorial associations, chambers, clusters, etc.) have an important role in raising awareness among regional stakeholders and fostering their engagement in RIS3 and international collaboration.
Moreover, lagging regions face several additional challenges such as lock-ins in well-established paths and mind-sets discouraging change. Actions that show future risks and opportunities and cultivate a more favourable attitude are important along with the necessary capacity and skills building. Structural funds can be a useful instrument in this respect, while creating the proper conditions for channelling efficiently funds is also key. This is why funding instruments must go hand in hand with strengthening the linkages between and within business and research communities. In this regard, there is significant potential for policy learning among both advanced and less-advanced regions on issues that primarily relate to building a strong R&I regional/national system.
During the workshop, the presentation by Effie Amanatidou stressed the main practical challenges of lagging regions when dealing with international cooperation. The Agenzia per la coesione territorial then described some aspects of their experience. The Vademecum they have been developing can be a helpful instrument especially in those countries where coordination between regions with different economic and innovation backgrounds is needed. Regione Veneto in the North Eastern part of Italy has been strongly involved in the concerted exercise of drafting the Vademecum and it highlighted the main difficulties they have been facing so far. This discussion was also seen as linked to the current state of the art of the activities developed by the JRC Thematic Platforms and their interregional partnerships.
Agenda and Presentations
10:30 – Greetings and opening
Mark Boden, Project Leader Lagging Regions 2 project, JRC EC Territorial Development Unit
Elisa Gerussi, Lagging Regions 2 project, JRC EC Territorial Development Unit
10:40 – Challenges and practicalities of interregional collaboration