Strong regional ecosystems and innovation hubs are key to more innovative Europe  

Science meets Regions pilot project will include local events around Europe in 2019

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) considers that recognising the role of regional ecosystems and innovation hubs is essential to boost research and innovation in Europe. In an opinion presented by Birgitta Sacrédeus (SE/EPP), Member of Dalarna County Council, the CoR highlights the need to better coordinate EU's cohesion policy with research and innovation policy and warns against growing inequalities between more and less developed regions.

The opinion , which was adopted unanimously at the CoR plenary session on 6 February, calls for the legislative texts for Horizon Europe – EU's next framework programme for research and innovation – to include a precise definition of regional ecosystems and innovation hubs and to further boost the links with regional smart specialisation strategies.

"Making more strategic use of local and regional innovation ecosystems, and taking more advantage of the complex collaborative research and innovation processes developed jointly between universities, industry, public policy-makers and civil society, is the key to success when it comes both to knowledge development in general and to knowledge transfer and the implementation of the results of research and innovation", rapporteur Birgitta Sacredeus said.

According to the rapporteur it is crucial to tackle regional disparities which risk growing as a consequence of probable cuts to cohesion policy funding. Therefore State aid rules need to be further simplified to achieve innovation-friendly regulations that allow the combination of different EU funding instruments, such as the InvestEU fund , the European Social Fund , Erasmus and the Digital Europe programme.

"There is a direct correlation between economic development and rates of investment in innovation and research. As R&I outcomes are inextricably linked to research infrastructure, this needs to be boosted by directing part of EU funds, such as the Structural Funds or Horizon Europe, towards EU regions with greater development needs, Ms Sacrédeus said.

Local and regional authorities insist to be fully involved in the planning and implementation of Horizon Europe, as well in the European Innovation Council alongside representatives from academia and business. Council's scope should also include social and societal innovations including service innovations, which to a large extent take place in cities and regions.

Science meets Regions 2019

The European Committee of the Regions also welcomed the funding allocated to the Science meets Regions pilot project , which was officially launched at the European Parliament on 6 February. The objective of 23 local events across EU in 2019, many of them involving CoR members, is to build closer links between scientists and EU policymakers through regular dialogue and to establish and improve a culture of evidence-informed policy-making in close connection to regional smart specialisation strategies.

"This is a proof of good progress. Multi-level and territorial aspects of R&I policy and local ecosystems have been explicitly recognized by both the European Commission and the European Parliament. We, the CoR members, want to move forward even faster. Knowledge and European partnerships are crucial in tackling burning societal challenges", said Markku Markkula, First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions, who contributed to the launch event alongside Christophe Clergeau (FR/PES), CoR rapporteur for Horizon Europe.

The 8th European Summit of Regions and Cities

The next generation of EU programmes in the context of the EU long-term budget for 2021-2027 will be among the main points for discussion during the 8th European Summit of Regions and Cities to be held in Bucharest, Romania, on 14-15 March – just two weeks before the U.K.'s expected exit from the EU on 29 March, and two months ahead of the European elections

Over 500 European, national, regional and local leaders from all EU Member States will be welcomed over in the Romanian capital to focus on the contribution of local and regional governments to the "Future of Europe". Under the title "(Re) New EUrope", the Summit will be the largest political gathering of mayors, regional presidents and other elected local and regional representatives from across the Union this year.

The event will also gather 100 young local and regional politicians to actively engage in the debate on the future of Europe. It will also see the official launch of the Committee's initiative on a new Network of Regional Hubs (#RegHub ) in the presence of the 20 participating regions.

Should you wish to participate in the event, you are kindly requested to register via the media accreditation page of the EU Romanian Presidency (deadline: 1 March) Please note that only registered journalists will be able to get media accreditation to the event.

Contact:

Lauri Ouvinen

Tel. +32 22822063

lauri.ouvinen@cor.europa.eu