The AER participated in the Smart Regions conference, where European regions could present their successful stories on Smart Specialisation and their strategies to achieve innovation-driven economic transformation. At the same time, the European Institutions had the opportunity to listen to these examples and meet the people that make them happen, establishing a dialogue between the decision-makers of regional, national and European level, and the research, industry and social actors.
The event was focused on three priority areas: Energy, Agri-food and Industrial Modernisation. These key fields aggregate the regions in three Thematic Smart Specialisation Platforms already in place (or just launched at the conference) set to encourage the regions to develop interregional partnerships and to share best practices in similar fields. During Wednesday afternoon, an interactive workshop was organised to exchange ideas and promote cooperation on each one of the platforms. AER took part in the Industrial Modernisation Platform.
The European Commission put big effort in presenting how they are supporting regions in implementing their Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3). Apart from organising frequent events all over Europe to encourage cooperation and create synergies, they presented the possibilities of the cohesion funds, which according to Walter Deffa (DG Regional and Urban Policy) are becoming more and more used to finance innovation. Robert-Jan Smits (DG Research and Innovation) also presented the potential complementarity between cohesion funds and the Horizon 2020 programme, allowing the regions to unleash their potential.
Commissioner Jyrki Katainen encouraged regions to find their identity, that specific area where they can specialise and become leaders. This is the way to create sustainable growth based on research and excellence and provide quality jobs. Commissioner Bieńkowska took the stage to encourage public authorities and industry leaders to engage and prepare a shared strategy for smart specialisation, bringing in universities and civil society as well. Only by breaking barriers for communication and working together can knowledge and innovation reach the market and create growth and prosperity.
You can find more information at the conference website, and lots of practical and technical information on the Smart Specialisation Platform, including a list of the upcoming events in Smart Specialisation. Also available, the storify!