Increasingly, service innovation plays an instrumental role in transforming and upgrading traditional economic sectors and industries into more productive, competitive and high value-added business eco-systems. Considered as being multi-dimensional in nature, service innovation comprises innovation in services, service sectors or service industries that are provided by service entrepreneurs and service firms.
It also takes place in manufacturing industries, adding further value and contributing significantly to overall productivity and profitability. There is a growing need to assess, analyse and demonstrate the impact that service innovation has on industrial change, and to assist Member States and regions towards a greater understanding of the role that service innovation can play as a driver of industrial transformation and future competitiveness.
The European Service Innovation Centre (ESIC) aims to capture and demonstrate the dynamics and impact of service innovation, as well as to assess how service innovation can contribute to Europe's competitiveness, to the shaping of new industrial structures and regional development.
By providing customised advice to six selected model demonstrator regions, it will also help Europe’s regions and Member States to make better use of the transformative power of service innovation in strengthening existing and emerging industries and markets and developing better industrial policies.
In close collaboration with the European Cluster Observatory, ESIC will identify sectoral and cross-sectoral industrial development patterns driven by service innovation. The new, or better, business and innovation support tools identified will be further transferred to relevant stakeholders such as the European Business & Innovation Centre Network to stimulate a wider roll-out.
In addition, ESIC will develop close links with the Smart Specialisation Initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional Development. Awareness will also be raised about the opportunities offered by the European Structural Funds to foster favourable conditions for eco-systems that can promote regional regeneration, including using service innovation as a driver for change.
The European Service Innovation Centre is a direct follow up to the final report of the Expert Panel on Service Innovation in the EU, which was presented in February 2011. This relates especially to the recommendations on the need to capitalise on the ‘transformative power of service innovation’ and to applying a ‘demonstrator approach’ through which service innovation can be capitalised upon in a more systemic and holistic manner.
The Smart Guide to Service Innovation was published by the European Commission’s Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General in 2012 that provides a conceptual background and presents twenty good practice examples on how to better support SME Policy in this respect through Structural Funds.
The European Commission implemented the recommendation to apply the ‘large scale demonstrator approach’ by publishing a call for expressions of interest in March 2012, with a view to selecting six model demonstrator regions. The selection of five of these regions was announced in July 2012. The regions are the Canary Islands, Emilia-Romagna, Limburg, Luxembourg, Northern Ireland and Upper Austria.
Besides the recommendations of the Expert Panel, ESIC is built upon the work undertaken by the EPISIS project.
ESIC will make a contribution to the objectives of the European Commission’s long-term Europe 2020 strategy by providing analyses for, and raising awareness about the contribution of service innovation to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
ESIC will further contribute to the implementation of the Innovation Union Initiative by complementing the Innovation Union Scoreboard.