Based on a broad concept of innovation and over 30 activities, the Innovation Union flagship initiative commits the EU to increase investment in research to 3% of GDP by 2020. Studies indicate that such investment could create 3.7 million jobs by 2025.
Between 2007 and 2011, public and private spending increased from 1.85% to 2.03% of GDP but it appears that disparities between regions are growing after years of convergence. Today, only one in ten regions in the EU spends more than 3% of their GDP on research and these 27 regions together amount already for over 40% of the total investment in innovation. Most of these leading regions have important competences, capacities and budgets and follow a 'smart specialisation' approach to integrated regional development and the management of economic change and recovery. Moreover, between 2014 and 2020 'smart specialisation strategies' will be a priority for all regions under the European Structural and Investment Funds accompanied by the new "Horizon 2020" programme and other initiatives.
This conference brought together key representatives of EU institutions, Member States and regions to take stock of the implementation of the flagship initiative at regional level. Accompanied by an exhibition of good practice from Europe’s regions and cities, the event focused on:
During the networking lunch, the participants met with experts to discuss and to provide an input into the afternoon thematic sessions together with facilitators from ERRIN, ENoLL, ELIG and the European Commission.
The conclusions of the conference will feed into the contribution of the Committee of the Regions' mid-term assessment of the Europe 2020 strategy, to be presented on the occasion of the 6th European Summit of Regions and Cities on 7 and 8 March 2014 in Athens.
Karin Nygard Skalman