Awareness of the importance of research and innovation to Europe’s economy has increased in the context of global competition. Their potential for generating economic growth also means that research and innovation must feature more strongly in the investments co-financed by the instruments of EU cohesion policy: the Structural Funds. The purpose of this conference – the first of a series of conferences organized by DG REGIO on regions and economic change - is to give interested parties, particularly Structural Funds Managing Authorities, insight into successful strategies and practices for “improving knowledge and innovation for growth”, as recommended by the draft Community Strategic Guidelines for Cohesion Policy for 2007-2013.
The conference will therefore focus on examining best practices as regards fostering knowledge transfer, innovation and clusters, with particular attention to those strategies and projects which have succeeded in less prosperous regions. It will address three main themes: how to create the right environment for innovation, how to strengthen collaboration between public and private stakeholders, and how to establish partnerships and synergies. To maximise the scope for practical exchanges of experience, the event will be based around three sessions of workshops bringing together policy makers, expert advisers and practitioners. Topics for the workshops will include the role of public authorities in managing innovation and nurturing clusters, the development of innovation infrastructure and support services, financial engineering, developing poles of excellence, commercializing research results, the role of networks in knowledge transfer, developing trans-regional projects, and experience of combining national and Community funding.
The conference will be of interest not only to authorities involved in drawing up and implementing Structural Funds programmes, but also to businesses and business organizations, universities, technology transfer specialists and networks involved in research, innovation and knowledge transfer.
To accompany the conference, there will be an exhibition of innovative projects from across the EU, stands with information on relevant Community programmes and advisory booths.