As the COVID-19 crisis reaches new levels, the European Union is preparing to address an unprecedented post-Corona reality with the development of an EU economic recovery policy and a realigned Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF). In a statement published on 26 May, European regions and innovation stakeholders jointly call on the European institutions to use the EU Interregional Innovation Investment instrument to unleash the innovation potential available in Europe’s regions for Europe’s recovery.
The current crisis has illustrated the dependence of the EU on external providers for strategic goods, for whole or parts of the value chains of antibiotics and painkillers as well as protective masks and medical equipment, with a weak EU capacity to react in a collaborative manner in first instance. Nevertheless, many regional innovation ecosystems across Europe have responded to the outbreak rapidly. Key technologies like biotechnology and 3D-printing have been mobilised to create innovative solutions, by bottom-up collaboration between stakeholders within regional innovation ecosystems.
EU regional innovation collaboration support-tools will play a key role during the next MFF period to achieve EU economic recovery. To this regard, European regions, clusters, RTOs and other innovation stakeholders jointly call on the European institutions to use the Interregional Innovation Investment instrument to unleash the innovation potential available in Europe’s regions. This new instrument, proposed by the European Commission in the 2018 MFF proposal and supported by the European Parliament and Council, entails a coordinated approach for innovation related investments in the development of interregional value chains across the EU. It supports the creation of interregional public-private innovation partnerships that can strengthen our European industrial ecosystems and their key value chains, paving the way for follow up financing by private investors. Guided by the Regional Smart Specialisation (RIS3) principles and supported by the Smart Specialisation Platforms, it allows enhanced efficiency and avoids duplication. This new instrument is fully in line with the EU’s strategic orientations in terms of Cohesion Policy and beyond: it will serve EU economic recovery based on the new EU Industrial Strategy. Such Interregional Innovation Investments will support sustainable and inclusive recovery and growth in the EU.
The COVID-19 crisis has an asymmetric impact at territorial level. Regions, sectors and companies across Europe will be affected differently, with SMEs being the most hardly hit. A major part of the policy responses will lie in regional hands. Therefore, the European Institutions should ensure that the revised MFF and the EU Economic Recovery Plan have a strong territorial dimension, providing adequate budget and involving regional authorities in the governance of the European tools based on interregional cooperation.
Crucial decisions are being taken to tackle the economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. This crisis can be a trigger to rebuild our economies differently while making them more resilient. The Interregional Innovation Investments instrument can, with a relevant budget, play a key role in shortening and strengthening EU industrial supply chains and creating the complete value chains that are crucial to strengthen the EU economy, to secure Europe’s innovation capacity and to create a strong European industrial base.
About the signing parties:
Vanguard Initiative, the largest network of industrial regions in the EU, is both initiator and signing party to the joint statement. Vanguard member regions collaborate based on the principle that however every region is strong in certain technology domains, hardly any region alone is strong enough to be EU- and globally competitive. Hence, collaboration between regions and their economic stakeholders is needed, based on complementary expertise. Members are collaborating among others on batteries, hydrogen and circular economy. Vanguard Initiative’s model of interregional collaboration along industrial value chains, based on smart specialisation principles, has been largely recognised by a wide range of partners and institutions and has been up scaled as a model for EU policies, notably through the Thematic Smart Specialisation Platforms. Vanguard member regions are committed to play an active role in the renaissance of European industry and to transform regional clusters into world-class clusters. We are able to mobilize communities of businesses and knowledge institutes within value chains and we are committed to provide financial support for innovation when markets are not mature yet, in the closest synergy with national and EU public authorities.
EARTO promotes and represents the interests of over 350 RTOs in more than 20 countries in Europe which together represent 150.000 highly-skilled researchers and engineers managing a wide range of innovation infrastructures.
European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN) brings together over 120 regional authorities, universities, research organisations, chambers of commerce, and clusters focussing on research and innovation priorities.
Assembly of European Regions (AER) brings together regions from 30 countries across the entire European continent to promote a Europe that embraces its diversity to thrive in a global world.
Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) brings together more than 150 Regions from 24 States from the European Union and beyond to campaign for a more balanced territorial development at the heart of the European Union and its policies.
European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) is the international federation of benchmarked Living Labs in Europe and worldwide, with 150+ active members.
Eurotech Universities Alliance is a strategic partnership of 6 leading universities of science & technology.
Universities of Applied Sciences for Europe (UAS4EUROPE) is the voice of European universities of applied sciences in the field of applied research and innovation.
European Clusters Alliance joins more than 740 industrial clusters with the mission to facilitate and maintain strong, close and trust-based collaborative relations between companies, research organizations and public authorities, to strengthen the competitiveness and prosperity of our regions.