Research and Regional Policy
The EU’s regional and research policies are closely interlinked, and both follow similar aims in the context of the revised Lisbon Strategy:
- Research policy recognises the importance of regions as research actors and as the most suitable level of governance to foster research and innovation.
- Regional policy encourages the transition to a knowledge economy at a regional level and helps less advanced regions to establish research infrastructure.
Regional policy aims to increase social and economic cohesion by assisting regions lagging behind in consolidating and developing their economic and employment potential. In a knowledge-based economy, this requires sufficient levels of innovation and knowledge use, generation and commercialisation. At present, however a relatively small number of affluent regions account for most of the EU's research activity. Access to research and knowledge is therefore not guaranteed in many regions:
- 14% of organisations participating in FP5 were based in one of the then 64 Objective 1 regions.
- Eight of these regions accounted for over half of the total number of projects.
- Eight regions in the EU-15 accounted for one quarter of total EU R&D expenditure in 1999.
Regional policy increasingly focuses on improving regional innovative and research capacities and infrastructures. Furthermore, it is important for regional development strategies (RDS), which define the priorities for the economic development of a region, to have a strong research dimension to adapt research policy instruments to regional circumstances.
- COM(2005) 119 final: Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007 - 2013).
- The regional dimension of research policy in the EU
- The research dimension of regional policy in the EU
- Improving access to finance: the JEREMIE programme
The regional dimension of EU research policy is based on FP7 and on the Regional and Cohesion Policy Guidelines for 2007 - 2013.
Regions of Knowledge
The "Regions of Knowledge" initiative aims to encourage trans-national networks of regions and research-driven clusters. By assisting regions to increase their capacity to invest in R&D and increasing Structural Funds support for R&D, it will help to improve regional competitiveness and R&D/knowledge absorption capacities.
The "Regions of Knowledge" action specifically aims to:
- support the definition and implementation of optimal policies and strategies for the development of R&D; driven clusters
- improve the relevance and effectiveness of regional research agendas
- promote and strengthen cooperation between clusters
- strengthen the sustainable development of existing R&D; driven clusters
- foster the creation of new R&D; driven clusters
Projects will primarily cover one of the following areas or activities:
- Analysis, development and implementation of research agendas
- 'Mentoring' regions with a less developed research profile
- Improving the integration of research actors in regional economies
FP7 has a specific element to unlock and develop the full research potential of outermost and convergence regions - the "Research Potential" action. The action will concentrate on regions that are in need of new knowledge or that are not using their full research potential, and will help them to participate in the European Research Area by assisting inward researcher mobility as well as supporting the acquisition and development of research equipment.
As a result, strategic partnerships between research groups across European regions are expected to develop. They will primarily focus on:
- the exchange of know-how and experience
- the recruitment of experienced researchers
- the acquisition and development of research equipment
- the organisation of workshops and conferences for knowledge transfer
- promotional activities
In addition, eligible regions can have their research infrastructure evaluated by independent experts.
EU cohesion policy for 2007 - 2013 aims to engineer a structural shift towards knowledge-based activities and reduce innovation gaps within Europe. Action under the cohesion policy in support of R&D; should fall within one of four broad guiding principles.
- Increase and improve investment in R&D;. The main aims are:
- to enhance national and regional R&D; capacities;
- to improve access to technology and knowledge;
- to enhance the RTD absorption capacity of companies, especially SMEs;
- to strengthen cluster-based cooperation among businesses and the higher education/public research sector.
- Facilitate innovation and promote entrepreneurship. The main aims are:.
- Promote the information society for all. The main aims are:
- to address structural factors underlying the EU's under-performance;
- to encourage businesses to innovate;
- to support start-up companies, especially those linked to RTD, and to compensate for market failures that hampers innovation and entrepreneurship;
- to provide business support services;
- to exploit European strengths in eco-innovations o to promote and facilitate the development of new firms.
- Improve access to finance
- to support investment in ICT infrastructure;
- to improve innovation support services for SMEs;
- to develop the skills of the labour force for the knowledge economy and to deliver electronic services (e-government, e-business, e-learning, e-health, etc.);
- to create an appropriate (broadband) communications infrastructure;
- to encourage companies and households to use ICT.
- by supporting non-grant instruments (loans, secured debt financing for subordinate debt, convertible instruments, risk capital, etc.)
- by providing grants for the set-up of infrastructure facilitating access to finance (business angels, incubators, etc)
- by reaching out to special groups such as young or women entrepreneurs.
The "JEREMIE" programme (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) intended to :
- improve access to and levels of funding for businesses (loans, equity, venture capital, guarantees and technical or organisational assistance);
- improve the coordination of the national and regional levels;
- promote a better absorption and sound use of public resources under EU programmes.
JEREMIE should give SMEs the opportunity to access loans on competitive terms on the basis of an open call procedure. According to the EIB, every euro invested could generate up to 10 euro of additional private capital.
Last updated on: 2011-06-20