Accelerating R&I Excellence in High Potential Countries and Regions in Europe
The session debated how to accelerate R&I excellence in high potential countries and regions in Europe. The main trend in the EU-28 research and innovation performance is the emergence of a more nuanced divide between countries and regions. The picture is very complex. On the one hand, there is evidence of weaknesses even in more advanced countries. On the other hand, as recent studies on participation and R&I performance patterns have shown, the countries targeted in the Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation pillar in Horizon 2020 are not a ‘homogeneous’ group. Pockets of excellence and small-scale innovation ecosystems do exist in Member States with moderate research and innovation capacities. They were developed thanks to the congruent efforts of many types of actors nationally and regionally, and with the increasingly intelligent use of EU funding over time.
The speakers of the workshop presented strategic and practical examples of what was done in their countries in this regard. Remarkably, joining forces for common goals came out of the mentioned experiences of those countries as an important means of achievement. In the case of Ireland, Ms Acheson explained that developing a positive evaluation culture contributed very strongly to policy learning and policy experimentation approaches. In Slovenia, processes for systemic alignment are put in place in order to elaborate, design and implement ecosystemic synergies between EU, regional and national mechanisms. In Estonia, a special programme for continuous work of scientific councillors in sectorial ministries is supported, aiming to set and find means for the implementation of national R&I priorities. Jan Andersen from the Danish Technical University represented the pan-European COST targeted network BESTPRAC underlined that every effort must be mobilised to increase research funding both on national and European scale. Since Europe is not the European institutions alone, it is up to the joint effort of the Member States to release the potential in research for the creation of wealth and prosperity for European citizens.
These issues were also examined in the process of the Mutual Learning Exercise (MLE) that reviewed widening participation initiatives throughout the EU and activities to strengthen synergies. With this learning-sharing workshop and its interactive part on questions from a very engaged audience, new insights were gained on how to better connect and develop successful national experiences, in order to accelerate research and innovation performances in the EU and thereby boost EU competitiveness and inclusive growth.
Take away message
In this workshop we could learn from different angles how appropriate policy approaches and mixes such as the ecosystemic approach, the strategic framework and coordinating different actors led to very good results in terms of acceleration of research and innovation excellence in high potential but catching-up countries and regions. Joint effort and active, purposeful engagement of various players at different levels (national, regional, European networks) is one of the key success factors.
To enhance R&I excellence, Estonia has implemented a detailed participation programme of ERA initiatives.
Regarding synergies, when the different innovation actors work together to properly identify and define the correct policy question - that is as important as working together to find the correct solutions.
The release of intellectual potential across Europe is crucial, and we, the research administrators, play an important role in enabling more scientists, and more academic environments to become contributors to Europe’s leading role in the global scientific environment.