Regional R&D as a ‘moulder of knowledge’
With political emphasis in the EU moving from knowledge as an end-goal to knowledge as a means to an end, Headlines takes a tour of what the regions have to contribute to the Lisbon Agenda and what actions are being taken in Brussels to mould and move this vital knowledge base.
Knowledge is rapidly becoming a key to global success. At the European level, the idea of a ‘knowledge-based economy’ first emerged from the Lisbon meeting of European leaders in 2000. Since then, it has taken on increasing meaning as policy-makers come to appreciate how knowledge and innovative thinking can contribute, not only to science, but also to business, industry and, ultimately, the societies that form around this economic foundation – giving birth to the “knowledge society”.
|Getting the right elements in the right order to promote regional innovation and R&D.|
The European Union, as a whole, has been working hard to boost Europe’s capacity to capitalise on the knowledge society concept. The regional (or sub-national) contribution to this battle to remain competitive – or as the Lisbon Strategy puts it, for Europe to be the world’s “most competitive knowledge-based economy by 2020” – is crucial in this respect.
Clearly understanding the significant role that regions, both as part of the European Research Area (ERA) and as drivers of economic growth, the Commission’s Research Directorate-General has backed several activities over the years aimed at boosting the regional stake in the knowledge society. EU-backed schemes, such as the Innovating Regions in Europe (IRE) network, are also working on helping Europe’s parts work more efficiently towards achieving the whole’s ambitions. A recent leaflet, produced by the Commission’s Regions of Knowledge team, amply illustrates the importance of regional innovation to the EU’s overall goals.
Finding the g-local potential
The leaflet, called ‘On course for success’, outlines past and present actions aimed at promoting the active involvement of local players in shaping regional development models. The success of the first Regions of Knowledge Pilot Action (KnowREG-PA), which got off the ground in August 2003, inspired the launch of a second, more ambitious scheme (KnowREG 2) funded by the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
KnowREG 2 is more R&D-oriented and, according to the new publication, “aims to promote increased and better regional investment in research through mutual learning, coordination and collaboration between regional policies and initiatives”.
“[It] has what can be called a g-local (global and local) orientation [and] will prioritise trans-national, trans-regional collaborative projects focusing on local RTD policy-making and investment strategy,” it continues.
The scheme is open to a range of local stakeholders – regional administrations, universities, public and private bodies involved in research at the regional level – and seeks to address specific policy issues related to regional research investment. The goal is to “spread and further increase the outreach of successful regional initiatives”.
For more information about the scheme and the latest calls in this area, consult the Regional Research and Innovation Service on-line.