Political Leaders gather for high level discussion with Vice President Katainen on delivering growth and jobs across Europe

Political Leaders gather for high level discussion with Vice President Katainen on delivering growth and jobs across Europe

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - 15:00

Senior political representatives from 26 of the 30 member Vanguard Initiative regions met in Brussels today to restate their commitment to delivering growth and jobs through industry-led interregional cooperation, co-creation and co-investment.

Wim van de Donk, current chair of the Vanguard Initiative and King’s Commissioner, Province of Noord-Brabant, South-Netherlands said: “International cooperation is crucial to removing barriers to collaboration and co-investment across Europe. That is the aim of the ‘Vanguard Initiative for new growth through smart specialisation’. Within the Vanguard Initiative, 30 European regions are working to embed the smart specialisation agenda, to strengthen competitiveness, to internationalise Europe’s industry and to create jobs – because together we are stronger!”

The meeting provided an opportunity to reflect on the progress made by the Vanguard Initiative over the last year. Outlining his support for the work of the Initiative in this area, European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen said: "Regions should be fully involved in the European investment plan. Therefore, I welcome the commitment of the Vanguard Initiative to create interregional partnerships of innovation actors and businesses for joint demonstration projects in new industrial growth areas. This brings new bottom-up and collaborative investment dynamics, which will have a positive impact on European growth and jobs." 

Joint investments are at the core of the Vanguard Initiative’s approach. Work is under way to generate financing and investment models that can support the joint demonstration cases emerging from its five pilot projects and can deliver early-stage investment capital for innovative SMEs. Central to this bottom-up approach is strong and focused industry engagement. The Vanguard Initiative is pioneering a new approach to support EU industry internationalisation and competitiveness by developing joint demonstration cases in key industry domains, the final goal of which is full-scale commercialisation. The political leaders present at the meeting had the opportunity to hear directly from companies involved in the current pilot projects in advance of their participation in the Vanguard Initiative matchmaking event on Thursday 25 February.

Flubetech, a Catalonian SME based near Barcelona, produces high-tech coatings and surface modification of tools and components. The company is involved in the Efficient and Sustainable Manufacturing pilot project. Flubetech CEO, Carles Colominas said:
“Participation in the ESM pilot (Efficient and Sustainable Manufacturing) will allow our company to create a network with European partners that complements our know-how, to test the market and identify potential end-users as well as accessing funding and cutting-edge technologies that will facilitate building demonstration facilities. This is a unique opportunity for an SME company like ours.” 

Developing and delivering global value chains requires the participation of both SMEs and larger players such as South-Netherlands company Philips Lighting, which is participating in the 3D-printing pilot. Ronald Maandonks, Global Head of Public and Private Partnerships, also shared with Vanguard Initiative’s political leaders the benefits the company feels it has gained.

While all the participants in the meeting were clear that barriers to collaboration and co-investment will continue to emerge, there was confidence among them that by continuing to learn by doing, the Vanguard Initiative remains in a strong position to address these challenges for the benefit of the participating regional economies and for Europe as a whole.