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Innovation, whether it relates to the development of new products, processes or organisational techniques, can help give economic operators a competitive edge. The European Union is acutely aware of this and places the fostering of innovation at the centre of its Strategy for Growth and Jobs.
To complement the strategy, the EU's Cohesion Policy for 2007-13 has given innovation a much higher priority than under previous programming periods. It seeks to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship and growth of the knowledge economy across all EU regions. A key aim is to help less developed regions foster their innovative capacities.
To achieve these goals, more money from the EU's regional funds has been committed to innovation than ever before. A new initiative called 'Regions for Economic Change' promotes the transfer of innovation from pilot schemes to mainstream national and regional programmes. In addition, Member States are being encouraged to channel small amounts of money from operational programmes into experimental pilot projects which focus on developing innovation.