Regions and cities as a driving force towards a renewed European Research Area (Part II)
Participants discussed concrete examples of regions' engagement in the renewed European Research Area, the role of innovation ecosystems and Smart Specialisation and the importance of interregional value chains.
The new ERA is about joining forces and making a change. With 80% of the total budget for Europe implemented by the regions, they will play an important role in the ERA. The pandemic shows the importance of working closely together, of being more closely connected. Regional innovation ecosystems can assist Member States, including in the enlargement countries, to put their economies on a more sustainable growth path. They are stronger when they involve actors from regions in neighbouring countries.
ERA-Hubs and the ERA Forum for Transition, two new concepts in the new ERA communication, were frequently mentioned in the discussion. ERA-Hubs are seen as an opportunity to bring the eco-system perspective into the ERA. For ERA Forum for Transition, participants advocated a multi-actor and inclusive approach, linking the regional and local actors into the Forum.
The importance of interregional value chains was highlighted to further enhance EU competitiveness and help integrate less-developed regions into the EU wide innovation value chains, helping those regions to catch up and sharing the benefits of globalisation and innovation.
Participants emphasised the role of Smart Specialisation Strategies in reinforcing regional cooperation and contributing to some of the concrete actions in the new ERA Communication. Smart specialisation is needed to stay competitive worldwide.
Concluding the session, the participants called for an inclusive and multi-level European Research Area, with local and regional authorities as partners in this process.
Take away message
The new ERA Communication is just the start of the process. In the months to come, the different elements will be clearly defined and discussed with key actors at national, regional and local level. ERA will reach out and connect with all stakeholders.
Anne Karjalainen (FI/PES), SEDEC Chair (CoR):
"I strongly support the creation of ERA Hubs, joining in the footsteps of the Digital Innovation Hubs, having been started by Commissioner Gabriel in her former role as Digital Commissioner."