The announcement recognises the strategic role of cities and regions in establishing innovative, transformative ecosystems to ensure economic growth and add value to society.
Mr Markkula said: "Regions and cities need to invest smartly in digital transformation, human capital and skills – this is an essential element to become a pioneer in regional innovation ecosystems. We stress the experimenting, piloting, prototyping and scaling up."
In November 2016, the Directorate-General (DG) for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, and the Committee of the Regions will launch a call for expressions of interest to cities and regions that wish to shape an ambitious and visionary strategy for digital transformation.
The objective of the call is to support cross-regional partnerships and joint investments in digital transformation in the context of the Smart Specialisation Platform on Industrial Modernisation.
The cities and regions will join forces in a network and, using their own resources, apply the Blueprint for cities and regions as launch-pads for digital transformation.
The Blueprint offers a set of smart guidelines developed by the DG and its think tank, the Strategic Policy Forum on Digital Entrepreneurship. It was presented yesterday in the workshop, 'Cities and Regions as launch-pads for digital transformation' held as part of the European Week of Regions and Cities.
The workshop invited cities and regions to assume sound leadership, build on their own strengths and smart specialisations, and create a constructive collaborative environment to reboot the economy and add value for their citizens.
The workshop, which was attended by more than 200 representatives from local and regional authorities, business organisations, development agencies, industry and academia from across Europe, concluded that the key to success lies in connecting people and businesses in their territories and to create spaces where new digital solutions can be tested in real-life environments.