Brussels, Bruxelles-Capitale (B), 6 November 2013
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) gathered members of its Committee ‘Economy and Regional development’ together with various stakeholders in Brussels, for a three day-programme of events around the topic of innovation. The aim was to exchange on how regions can further enhance their role as key actors in shaping virtuous innovation trajectories and in mobilising untapped potential for regional growth.
“Innovation is about building a new future, thanks to human interactions, new technologies, and creative ways of thinking. Innovation is about taking what exists, try and make it better and adapt to new challenges, such as environmental threats, inclusiveness or the financial and economic globalisation.” underlined Dr Hande Özsan Bozatli, AER President. “Furthermore, it is essential that projects and actions in the field of innovation generate tangible results, even more in this time of crisis!” she added.
By their very nature, innovation strategies ask for permanent adaptations, continuous future-oriented revisions as well as a pluralistic discussion of objectives. This is true of course for companies, but also for regions. In order to create an innovation-friendly environment that will make it easier for great ideas to be turned into products and services, regions have to promote the emergence and diffusion of technological, social and organizational innovation. While they may have different profiles in terms of competences, each region has its own lever of action to make innovation a tool for regional development.
EU Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and smart specialisation where largely discussed, as well as the (unfortunately limited) funding opportunities, offered to regions by Horizon 2020. Through interactive workshops, participants heard directly from their peers how they used interregional projects to boost innovation, as well as constructed successful S3 in their regions. Involvement of all stakeholders through innovative channels, looking beyond your region’s administrative border for partners, and building on your region’s competitive advantage and potential for excellence where the key messages.
In direct line with the topic, AER launched its 7th Innovation Award. Six previous winners of this Award explained what has become of their project. As an example, after being rewarded by AER in 2010, the Demola project from the Tampere region (FIN), which brings together students and companies in an open innovation and cross-disciplinary environment, grew and became an internationally recognised network.
Fully aware that innovative strategies can be only successful by joining forces of various different stakeholders, the Assembly of European Regions concluded this “Innovation marathon” by gathering 120 stakeholders from regions, Institutions, companies and experts in a networking event, co-organised by Bruxelles-Capitale (B) and hosted by Brussels Airlines.
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