The European Committee of the Regions underlines in
that the EU's ambitious innovation policy goals set
New Innovation Agenda for Europe
can only be achieved by reducing fragmentation
among projects and stepping up cooperation in
cities and regions between businesses, academia and
regional and local authorities.
Cities and regions also emphasise the need to set
up ERA Hubs, as outlined by the Council of the EU
one year ago, in order to speed up the emergence of
competitive R&I ecosystems across the EU.
The opinion drafted by Markku Markkula
(FI/EPP), Member of Espoo City Council and President of
the Helsinki Region, was adopted at the CoR plenary
session on 1 December.
"As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the war in
Ukraine and the energy crisis, we should discuss the
type of innovations needed for a resilient European
society", rapporteur Mr Markkula points out. "In this
situation, 'creative tension' and 'creative
destruction' must be translated into profit: something
completely new is needed, with the joint development of
potential breakthrough initiatives. The European
Commission should take measures, without delay, that
draw on and complement the new European Innovation
Agenda, and provide new solutions to acute societal
The opinion calls for clear objectives to close two
innovation divides. Europe still lags behind the US and
China in funding the whole innovation process, and the
best performing regions in the EU are up to nine times
more innovative than the least performing regions. The
transition to purpose-oriented creativity and an
innovation culture, genuinely open innovation
ecosystems and the development of an entrepreneurial
leadership mindset are mentioned in this context as
"The Innovation Agenda needs to be a critical signal
for the whole EU to take concrete actions – both
immediate and long-term – to address the innovation
divides and promote place-based innovation ecosystems,"
Mr Markkula said.
"Europe needs to accelerate the whole innovation
process on the ground, based on creative idea
screening, experimenting, testing, prototyping,
bench-learning, and scaling up. The European Commission
should demonstrate its innovativeness by creating new
ways of financing local activities that show natural
global potential in their initial phase".
The opinion highlights the key role of smart
specialisation strategies in strengthening regional
innovation ecosystems and the importance of
developing effective synergies between the EU
structural funds, Horizon Europe and other EU
funding instruments, building on initiatives such
as regional innovation partnerships.
It also urges to step up the establishment of
ERA Hubs, which would help create strong links between local
innovation ecosystems and the European Research Area
Mr Markkula welcomes the European Commission's proposal
to set up regional innovation valleys to tackle
pressing societal challenges through cooperation among
regions with similar specialisations. He believes that
regional innovation valleys can, together with leading
higher education institutions, act as key catalysts for
social and industrial change.
"A change in mindset is needed. The time to act is now. Top universities can lead by example in striving for a society that values entrepreneurship, university-industry cooperation, deep tech and tackling societal challenges. Researchers, students and businesses should get the chance to experiment together and pilot the latest technologies in a new entrepreneurial and innovation culture," Markkula said.
The opinion also highlights the social acceptability and relevance of innovation and science, their public value and the importance of public support. The results of projects carried out under the Horizon programme should therefore be further highlighted, with a particular focus on their value in improving regional innovation ecosystems and the Knowledge Triangle (research, education and innovation), with a tangible impact on the daily life of cities, regions and citizens.
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