« Strengthening Innovation in Europe’s Regions : strategies for resilient, inclusive and suistanable growth » is the title of the Communication published on 18th of July by the European Commission. One of the main challenges identified in the Communication is the need to boost the economic growth of the european regions through innovation.

The Communication aims to relaunch the so called smart specialisation, aimed to help european regions to unlock their potential for technological change, digitalisation and industrial modernisation. Therefore, the European Commission identifies four main challenges that need to be adressed in order to maximise the impact of the smart specialisation, namely: the increase of interregional cooperation ; the need to boost the innovation and competitiveness potential of European regions ; to strengthen the focus less developed and industrial transition regions ; to improve and building on joint work across EU policies and programmes supporting innovation.

The European Commission underlines that step forwards have been made to improve the research and innovation system within the european regions, thanks also to the creation of the Smart Specialisation Platform and of the Structural Reform Support Service. However reform efforts need to be intensified in order to create an enabling business environment and an efficient public administration to foster innovation at regional level.

Smart specialisation strategies have been also used to push inter-regional cooperation. However the European Commission points out that is necessary to further develop the inter-regional and cross-border dimension by creating interregional investment opportunities which will facilitate scaling up regional and local innovation. Therefore the Commission will put in place a pilot action by the end of 2017 to work in close collaboration with several thematic partnerships and to enforce innovation projects at regional level.
The reason behind the decision to launch a new pilot action, lays in the previous successfull initiative, called Vanguard Initiative, which is driven by a political committment of 30 regions to use their smart specialisation strategies to boost new growth through bottom-up entepreneurial innovation and industrial renewal in European priority areas.
The Autonomous Province of Trento (PAT) is currently an observer within the Vanguard Initiative and takes active part to it with the support of Hub Innovatizione Trentino-HIT and Trentino Sviluppo. The PAT is currently assessing the added value of becoming a full-member. The Vanguard Initiative represents a great opportunity of internationalisation for Trentino and is in line with the investment priorities in the mechatronics/industry 4.0 and in the green technology sector, which are at the core of the smart specialisation strategy adopted by PAT.

In order to promote broad-based innovation to adress the challenges that regions in industrial transition are facing, the European Commission will put in place, by the end of 2017, another pilot action that seeks to facilitate the combined use of existing EU instruments and programmes managed by the Commission together with the resources available from cohesion policy.

Finally, the European Commission stresses the need to exploit synergies between EU funds for research and innovation, cohesion policy (structural funds) and industrial competitiveness measures to deliver essential investments. Therefore, the Commission will continue to work in close dialogue with national and regional authorities to facilitate the combined use of different EU instruments and funds and will evaluate the possibility of providing assistance on the ground by means of dedicated investment envoys, which would act as a first point of contact for local stakeholders.

Communication «Strengthening Innovation in Europe's Regions: Strategies for resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth»

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