Strengthening the capacities of EU regions for research and innovation supports the Lisbon objective of turning Europe into the most competitive knowledge-based society.
EU funding in 2008
"Innovative research-driven clusters contribute to regional development in Europe."
Regional activities are increasingly recognised as having the potential to add value to research and innovation in Europe. Moreover, evidence indicates that investment in research and development improves regional attractiveness, improves the competitiveness of local businesses and creates more jobs.
Consequently, the EU seeks to help the players at regional level to raise their scientific and technological capacities, and to strengthen their ability to conduct and invest in research that contributes significantly to economic growth, employment and sustainable development.
The ‘Regions of Knowledge’ programme is designed to assist the regions in integrating research fully into development strategies defined by bringing together all the stakeholders (public authorities, research centres, universities, business) and to play a strong part in the European Research Area. It aims to facilitate the development of innovative ‘research-driven clusters’, and to foster their Europe-wide cooperation – which also has the effect of strengthening the European Research Area.
This programme also promotes synergies between innovation and research policies at regional and European level, in line with the 2007 Communication on ‘Competitive European regions through research and innovation’.
In 2008, the activities supported under this initiative included the joint analysis of the research agendas of regional clusters, the development of joint action plans to improve integration of research actors and institutions in regional economies, and ‘mentoring’ by highly developed regions of those with less developed research profiles. The emergence of new clusters was also encouraged.
A strong emphasis was placed on maximising the benefits of research infrastructures as catalysts for regional economic development. Another key topical focus was the reinforcement of regional contributions to the reduction of CO² emissions.
In order to implement those newly defined research strategies, action plans mobilise regional, national and European Funding sources and address the potential synergies between European policies, especially the Research Framework Programmme, the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme and the Structural Funds.