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14 Pilot projects to boost knowledge economy in European regions


The European Commission has selected 14 pilot projects, to be allocated a total of €2.5 million, to boost the regional dimension of the knowledge economy.The projects were selected from a call for proposals published on August 1st, 2003. The “Regions for Knowledge” initiative (KnowREG) was called for by the European Parliament in order to encourage local players to design and shape regional knowledge development models. The models are to foster university involvement with the local economy and develop guidance for technology development paths, as well as awareness-raising actions. Projects will help improve regional research and innovation strategies, regional public-private partnerships, links between researchers, companies and financial institutions and networking between technological innovators across Europe’s regions.

“The Pilot Action on Regions of Knowledge gives me another opportunity to stress the importance of regions in the collective European effort to close the gap with our competitors in research investment and knowledge exploitation,” said European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. “Taking a grass-roots approach to improving Europe’s knowledge economy is central in helping to achieve the Lisbon objective for Europe to become the most dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010. Regions have a key role to play in this objective.”

The KnowREG action is independent of the European Commission’s Framework Programme for Research and Development (R&D) or Structural Funds.

European regions central to developing European Research Area

Even in the age of the internet, geographical proximity still remains a powerful factor in favour of intellectual, commercial and financial exchanges, heavily influencing innovation processes. Regional areas are emerging as dynamic players by forming the basis of production groupings in R&D and innovation. These areas have come to be known as ‘clusters’ and are today considered one of the main drivers of regional development. They therefore strongly contribute to the European Research Area and are helping Europe to become the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. A goal set by the March 2000 Lisbon European Council and complemented by the Barcelona European Council decision for the Union to boost R&D investment by up to 3% of European GDP by the same date.

The selected projects focus on:

· establishing regional research and innovation strategies
· producing operational models for public and private partnership structures
· creating links between different players in the process that leads to innovation, for example between researchers, innovative companies and finance sources
· networking with stakeholders in other regions that share complementary technological assets and promoting an environment conducive to research and innovation
· developing regional knowledge management models

The selected projects follow a balanced geographical distribution, with most Member States represented. Proposals had to include at least three partners coming from different Member States. Candidate countries can not participate at this stage. A total of 53 proposals were received, requesting a total of €13 million.


The commission identified 4 specific areas when launching the call:
- Technology audits and regional foresight (TARF) : focusing on analysis of the regional economy and technological fabric as well as identifying future development scenarios for a knowledge based economy.
- University driven actions for regional development (UDARD) : demonstrating how universities can play significant roles by providing expertise and advice for local companies or public institutions, as well as stimulating technology creation and uptake by creating spin-off companies and incubators across regions.
- Mentoring initiatives: focusing on networking between technologically advanced and less-advanced regions (Objective 1 regions) and providing knowledge and experience sharing for technology based regional development.
- Supporting activities: providing workshops or conferences, raising awareness about the importance of knowledge as a driving factor for local and regional development.

List of selected projects:

Technology Audit and Regional Foresight:
- META Foresight, integrating Foresight, R&D, Benchmarking, Market Watch and Technological Skills (Coordinator: Research Committee of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (GR), Participants: Foundation for the Development of Science & Technology in Extremadura (E), University of Wales (UK), Informacion y Desarollo INFYDE (E), Institut Jules Destrée (BE)).
- Building Regional Integration KnowleDGE Strategies- BRIDGES. Coordinator: Centro de Innovacion y Transferencia (E). Participants: Inovamais s.a. (P), IMG Innovations-Management (DE), ARIST-CRCI Bourgogne (FR)
- Insular Regions Knowledge TRACKer (IN.TRACK) Coordinator: Instituto Tecnologico de Canarias s.a (E) Participants: Forth Step-C (GR), Consorzia Catania Ricerche (IT), CEIM (P)
- MARED Flow: Coordinator: The Alliance of Maritime Interests in Europe (BE) Participants: Autoridad Portuaria de Gijon (E), City of Pori (FIN),Institute of Shipping Economics (DE), Administratie Waterwegen en Zeewezen (BE)
- ReKnoMa - Regional Knowledge Management. Coordinator: Regione Toscana (IT) Participants: Vejle AMT (DK), Vastra Gotaland Regionen (SE), Pont-Tech scarl (IT), Siderfor srl (IT)

University Driven Actions for Regional Development

- Conversion of Traditionally Structured Maritime Regions into European Knowledge Regions for Applied Biotechnology (BluBioNet). Coordinator: BIS - Bremerhavener Gesellschaft (DE) Participants: Centro de Innovacion y Transferencia (E), Targeting Innovation ltd (UK), Toulon Var Technologies (F)
- Pilot Action to develop a Baltic Sea oriented Knowledge Region commencing with the incorporation of Helsinki, the Oresund Region, and Hamburg (Baltic Sea-KR). Coordinator: Lund University (SE) Participants: University of Copenhagen (DK), TUTECH (DE), Culminatum (FI)
- SPIDER Project Increasing regional competitiveness through futures research methods. Coordinator: Finland Futures Research Centre (FI) Participants: Institut Jules Destrée (BE), Z_punkt gmbh (DE)
- COHERA - A cohesive ERA: Universities as knowledge Drivers in LFRs. Coordinator: Robert Huggins Associates (UK). Participants: University of Wales (UK), Harokopio University of Athens (GR), University of Aveiro (P)

Mentoring Initiatives

- Mentoring European Knowledge of the Chemical Regions. Coordinator: ISW - Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftliche Beratung (DE) Participants: IDEPA (E), Cestec (IT)
- SMERNA: Strategic Mentoring Initiative for the Region of North Aegean. Coordinator: University of Aegean (GR), Participants: Lund University (SE), National University of Ireland-Cork (IE), Chios Mastiha Growers association
- Demand Knowledge. Coordinator: East of England Chambers of Commerce (UK) Participants: Bildungszentrum in Greiswald (DE), Karlof Consulting KB (SE), Marketing Interactive UK ltd (UK)

Supporting Activities

- European Regions Research and innovation Network in Brussels (ERRIN). Coordinator: West Midlands in Europe (BE/UK) Participants: Helsinki EU Office (FI), Regione Piemonte (IT), Freie Hansestadt Bremen (DE), Unioncamere Lombardia (IT)
- Network, Knowledge Sharing and Cluster Development (NEKS). Coordinator: ASTER - Scienza Tecnologia Impresa (IT) Participants: ALMAWEB (IT), ESC Toulouse (F), University of Durham (UK)

Fabio Fabbi | European Commission
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