Research and innovation will be the key battleground of current and future European competitiveness and despite the economic crisis it is imperative that Europe, Member States and regions continue to invest in research and innovation capacities.
This short position paper developed by ERRIN and the AER is a means of opening up a wider discussion on the future role of regions in the European research and innovation agenda. Both networks believe that research and innovation needs regions and that all regions need research and innovation.
Regional and local authorities play a key role in developing and supporting regional innovation eco-systems and will be critical players supporting the achievement Horizon 2020 objectives. With the advantage of linking critical mass and proximity, regions can bring the right actors together to develop effective quadruple helix structures and support place-based research and innovation. Regions invest in infrastructure to support research and innovation but their importance also lies in the fact that they identify and mobilise the regional actors and organisations such as innovation agencies, science parks, clusters, living labs, Chambers of Commerce, etc. and help coordinate their activities. Regions are now increasingly active in developing innovative and pre-commercial procurement, supporting social innovation and social enterprises as well as playing a role in the debates on regulation and standardisation.
Regions should therefore be seen as major actors in preparing and implementing future Operation
Programmes and Horizon 2020 work programmes.
ERRIN and the AER welcome the proposed increased European budget for research and innovation and support the stairway of excellence concept which should be funded from both Horizon 2020 and Cohesion Policy. Any reduction in the proposed EU budget for research and innovation would be detrimental to future European competitiveness in the face of increased global competition. A strengthened budget also requires concrete measures on simplification in order to engage all actors.
Regions will also play a strong role in developing effective research and innovation strategies and smart specialisation strategies. To us, smart specialisation strategies mean a bottom up approach, an increased outward perspective and regions cooperating together and hence stronger internationalisation strategies which involve stronger networking through European networks such as ERRIN and the AER.
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