Appropriate infrastructures and highly skilled research staff are prerequisites to attracting private and public investment.
EU funding in 2009
However, investment in research and innovation should not only focus on the traditional urban centres where conditions for innovation are concentrated and most promising. Stimulating the research potential in all European regions is necessary to exploit fully the innovation that should translate into profits and ensure Europe’s economic competitiveness.
Regional activities are increasingly recognised as having the potential to add value to research and innovation in Europe. Moreover, investment in research and development improves the attractiveness of a region and the competitiveness of local businesses. This then has a direct influence on the availability and creation of jobs. Research in FP7’s ‘Regions of knowledge’ programme is designed to assist the regions in integrating research fully into regional development strategies. Regional authorities, universities, research centres, enterprises and other interested parties form networks or partnerships enabling the regions to organise themselves better into regional research-driven clusters which can act as key players in favour of innovation.
Cooperation of these stakeholders is promoted throughout Europe on the basis of thematic research-oriented priorities. Projects from these research-driven clusters selected in 2009 focus on the sustainable use of natural resources. The selected projects are innovative and cross-cutting in their approaches, and translate into the development of eco-technologies. They are connected with the five lead markets that have been identified by the European Commission: renewable energies; bio-based products; sustainable construction; protective textiles; and recycling.
Apart from exploiting the potential in their own regions, stakeholders in the regional research-driven clusters will identify and make best use of European policies and instruments such as the Research Framework Programme, the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme or the Structural Funds to implement their research strategies and their joint action plans. The programme also includes mentoring by highly developed regions of those with less-developed research profiles to help them set up regional research-driven clusters.