Coordinating R&I policies and programmes is embedded in the concept of smart specialisation, which gave a new impetus to the creation of a new national-regional dialogue for synergies between Horizon 2020 and the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds in Germany. The dialogue was launched in 2014, piloting a tailor-made multi-level governance model across policies, programmes and projects spanning different research fields, economic sectors and societal challenges. It aspires to drive the ‘entrepreneurial discovery’ by better managing information flows; supporting the strategic use of EU funds; and adapting applicant support services towards, e.g. integrated counselling formats.
Led by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the dialogue aims to involve all federal and regional (Länder) authorities responsible for cohesion policy and R&I. It provides a communication space for Managing Authorities, H2020 Programme Committees and NCPs, advice services including the EEN, key stakeholders and potential applicants. Results of the dialogue are fed back into the national policy arenas to kick-start new activities and maximise the impact of activities.
This structured and open dialogue fosters the commitment of key actors by concretely addressing societal challenges, specific instruments like public procurement for innovation, or key target groups such as higher education institutions. Thus, the German synergies dialogue bears the potential of carrying forward R&I topics of common political interest in Germany at national and Länder level to and from the European policy arena. Yet, its success depends on the readiness of all actors to take new paths.