Smart specialisation aids regional growth
A total of €67bn to be mobilised in support of intelligent strategies
22 July, 2017
To take up the challenge of economic modernisation in the era of globalisation, Europe needs to empower its regions and help them create value. This means embracing innovation, digitisation, decarbonisation and developing people's skills.
To accomplish these goals, the Commission is proposing a new set of actions to further help Europe's regions invest in their niche areas of competitive strength ("smart specialisation") and generate the innovation, resilience and growth needed.
There is room for improvement to better help regions catch the train of globalisation, said a Commission communication dated 18 July, identifying four main challenges to regional innovation, as well as actions and policy solutions to tackle them. The experience acquired so far with current Cohesion policy programmes, together with the actions and policy solutions put forward in this communication will provide a useful input in preparing the next Multiannual Financial Framework.
"To reap the benefits of globalisation, we need to create enabling environments, where the advances from trade and technology can materialise," said Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness. He urged EU’s regions to advance their smart specialisation to fill the possible EU budget gap that Brexit will leave.
As the EU finances will be expected to go under strong pressure, the Commission has launched two pilot projects that will be financed with €1m each by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The first pilot project will have the Commission providing “personalised” expert support to regions facing the industrial transition to “accelerate the absorption of innovation and remove barriers to innovation,” as Corina Cretu, European Commissioner for Regional Policy explained.
The second project aims to identify and expand any “inter-regional fundable projects that can create European value chains in priority sectors such as macro-data, bio-economy, resource efficiency, interconnected mobility.”
120 smart specialisation strategies have been developed for regions, over €67bn are available to support these strategies, under the European Structural and Investment Funds, national and regional contributions. Expected achievements by 2020 include bringing 15,000 new products to market and creating 140,000 new start-ups and 350,000 new jobs.