Smart Specialisation of Regions in R&D
What is it?
Discussions concerning the future of regional funding for research and innovation are focused on the concept of ‘Smart Specialisation’. This is a strategic approach to economic development through targeted support to research and innovation. It will be the basis for structural fund investments in research and innovation as part of the future Cohesion Policy's contribution to the Europe 2020 jobs and growth agenda. Each region will need to identify its best assets and research and innovation potential in order to concentrate its efforts and resources on a limited number of priorities where it can develop excellence and compete in the global economy.
Why is it important?
Structural funds devoted to research and innovation will allow regions to accumulate a critical mass of resources for projects that will answer the specific societal challenges each region faces. They will also increase the international visibility of regions and facilitate their economic transformation to higher value-added activities and new market niches.
Regions have to conduct research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation as a precondition to participate in Cohesion Policy projects. This is expected to promote synergies among the regions and public/private actors. Smart specialisation may also result in a closer alignment of European-level research programmes and priorities with those running at regional level.
Orgalime considers that the “Smart Specialisation” concept can indeed be a key element for the efficient use of regional and structural funds for research and innovation projects. Smart specialisation can promote sane industry involvement in research infrastructures of European relevance, both from a user and supplier perspective. Thus the research and innovation strategies of regions should be aligned with their roadmaps for industrial development.
However, it is essential to draw a clear distinction between the way funding is allocated: all financing under Horizon 2020 should be allocated on the basis of the criteria of excellence in research, impact and quality & efficiency of the implementation. Research and Innovation in cohesion policy should not undermine, but rather complement, the aims of Horizon 2020.
How we’ve been engaged
Orgalime, along with other partners representing the electrical engineering and electronic industry, published the Electra II Report on the ‘Smart World’. With chapters on smart cities and smart infrastructure, Electra II promoted the idea of using regional funds to build high-tech infrastructure, by stimulating public-private partnerships, and by taking energy efficiency into account in public procurement through the use of voluntary and incentivised lead standards.
The ‘Smart World’ also voiced the development of regional clusters in order to foster cooperation between science and industry. The EU needs a brainpower-network to facilitate the exchange of best-practices, the transfer of experience and the benchmarking of results among clusters.