Almere, Flevoland (NL), 4 November 2014
Today, the partners of the SMART EUROPE and GreenInfranet projects – INTERREG IVC – met for a joint final conference gathering over 160 participants, where regional stakeholders were challenged to build stronger connections between economic, health, spatial planning and social welfare policies, essentially to bridge the gap between nature and economy.
The SMART EUROPE project is aligned with the Europe 2020 strategy, which recommends that the European Union becomes a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. Following the European Commission, these three mutually reinforcing priorities should help the EU and the Member States to deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. SMART EUROPE brought this will at the heart of the territories by allowing regions to act directly at their own level.
Launched in Bologna in January 2012, the SMART EUROPE project aims at fostering the creation of innovation-based jobs. 13 partners* have committed themselves to elaborating intelligent strategies, and each region developed over the past three years an implementation plan for the customized package of policy instruments and measures.
The Assembly of European Regions, designer of the ‘Regional peer reviews’, brought this unique methodology to its partners. During one week, a team of experts went to each region to meet all actors and stakeholders linked to the issue, whether they be from public and private sectors, entrepreneurs, universities… These experts then analysed each situation and formulated taylor-made recommendations. Exchanging, sharing and transferring policy experiences, knowledge and good practices were the key words of the project.
SMART EUROPE at the heart of the regions
Flevoland (NL): the Province of Flevoland was the lead partner of the project. Its goal: to focus on cluster development as a means to boost innovation based jobs. The conclusions and recommendations of the peers were included in the Flevoland 2012 – 2015 Economic Agenda, adopted by the regional parliament in 2013.
Maramures (RO): following the recommendations made by the peers, Maramures decided to focus on improving the cooperation between actors at different levels, i.e. public authorities, University and entrepreneurs. To this end, a consortium is under creation, bringing together the main local stakeholders, who will become founding members of it.
Mid-Sweden (SE), or the example of two regions – Jämtland et Västernorrland – which have a common issue. The growth of the tourism sector led these regions to find innovative solutions for a ‘Tourism for all’, including people with disabilities. A pilot study on growth and innovation is currently under process to tackle the issue in the next Structural Funds Operational Programme.
Today is not the end of the SMART EUROPE project, its completion marks on the contrary the beginning of a new step, as AER will now propose the toolbox developed over the three years to all its member regions across wider Europe.
*13 Partners: Province of Flevoland (NL), Assembly of European Regions, NW England (UK), Veneto Region (IT), Veneto Innovazione (IT), Provincia di Bologna (IT), Észak-Alföld Regional Development Agency (HU), Maramures County (RO), ALMI Mid Sweden (SE), Patras Science Park (GR), Swietokrzyskie Region (PL), Baltic Institute of Finland (FIN), Avila County (ES).
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