Without formally devolved competences for R&I, designing a regional RIS3 and bringing together all the relevant stakeholders has not been easy. Nevertheless, through our own initiative we have developed a strategy and consulted over 250 representatives of institutions from the 'quadruple helix'. It was approved by our Regional Development Board in December 2014 and gained national recognition in the Regional Development Plan 2014-2020. Furthermore, the number of regional innovative projects financed by EU funds has grown by 80% between 2013 and 2015, amounting to €342.64M.
We still have many challenges, but have found inspiration through international cooperation, including the S3Platform peer review. One outcome is a bilateral agreement with the Alliance of Northern Netherlands Provinces (SNN). Starting in 2015, it aims to jointly address societal challenges and bolster economic growth in both regions. This will be achieved through newly created regional innovation incubators and living labs, tools that can drive RIS3 implementation by giving space for companies to share ideas, innovate and receive support to solve their problems.
We have worked intensively with experts from SNN, receiving support from local stakeholders and the European Commission's Regions Peer to Peer TAIEX programme. Results are already visible: Potential common priorities (agro food, waste, water, new materials and energy) have been mapped based on value chain principles. A governance and coordination system is being constructed with widespread stakeholder participation, and sources of finance have been identified. Perhaps most importantly, lessons have been learned on how to understand each other's development needs and how to approach intercultural communication.