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Regions of knowledge
The EU has many dynamic industrial and research-driven clusters, albeit smaller and less integrated than in the USA. Research and innovation therefore suffer from the same fragmentation as the internal market.
To make them as attractive as possible to foreign investors, these clusters need to achieve critical mass. They cannot be built from scratch, but depend on a strong industrial base and good and trustful relations between science and industry.
Networking within clusters and across complementary clusters is a key factor for their successful development. Training and research centres, financial institutions, innovation and intellectual property consultants, local and regional development agencies and other support organisations are all key players in maximising firms’ creative business potential.
The ever increasing complexity of products and processes and the need to integrate services such as maintenance, logistics and marketing raise problems, even for the most successful clusters. Cooperation between clusters can help to address them.
The Regions of Knowledge initiative aims to support trans-national mutual learning and cooperation between research-driven clusters, bringing together regional authorities and development agencies, public research organisations, industry and other relevant stakeholders.
The main activities covered are the following:
The initiative started with a pilot action, introduced in 2003 by the European Parliament. Because of the considerable success of the pilot action, the Commission undertook to pursue it and included a "Regions of Knowledge 2" initiative in its proposals for the 7th Framework Programme.
This will be complemented by the Europe-INNOVA initiative which will provide support to facilitate networking between industrial clusters.
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