The European Commission has published a call for proposals for the implementation of regional development projects under its specific programme for the dissemination and optimization of the results of activities in the field of research and technological development, including demonstration (1994-1998) (INNOVATION). The work programme of the INNOVATION programme foresees the implementation of regional actions to promote a favourable environment for innovation. Under Article 10 of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Regulation, the ERDF may contribute to innovative actions in regional development through pilot schemes which encourage the pooling of experience and the development of cooperation between different Community regions, and innovative measures. In line with the priorities of Article 10 approved for the 1995-1999 period, some of these innovative measures aim at developing new ways of introducing innovation and technology transfer in the regional development agenda of less-favoured regions of the European Union through demonstration projects. The European Commission, in its Communication to the Council on "Cohesion and RTD Policy-Synergies between Research and Technological Development Policy and Economic and Social Cohesion Policy", said that: - It was willing to provide technical assistance through the Structural Funds for developing regional research and technological development strategies in the context of the next series of Community Support Frameworks (1994-1999) in partnership with the Member States; - Within the INNOVATION programme particular attention will be given to promoting cohesion in less favoured regions. On this basis, the European Commission's services in charge of regional policy and of the INNOVATION programme have jointly launched this call for proposals. The purpose of the call is to invite the submission of proposals for the analysis of regional innovation and technology transfer infrastructures and strategies (RITTS), for the elaboration of regional innovation strategies (RIS) and for regional technology transfer projects (RTT), and for the relevant accompanying measures. Regional innovation and technology transfer infrastructures and strategies (RITTS) and regional innovation strategies (RIS) are aimed at supporting local and regional governments, and/or development organizations, for the analysis of the innovation, technology transfer and RTD infrastructures, in view of the development of more efficient innovation support and promotion policies in the regions concerned. This includes a thorough assessment of technology requirements and of local needs, capabilities and potential, including management, financial, commercial, training and organizational issues as well as purely technological ones. The resulting strategy should provide a framework for optimizing innovation policy and infrastructures at the regional level, especially with regard to their relevance to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It should be designed to promote cooperation between the private sector (SMEs in particular), the research, technological development and innovation community, and public administration with a view to improving the innovative capacity of a region. The overall objectives of the two schemes are similar. However, while the RIS are more oriented towards promoting innovation capabilities for regional development, RITTS are more specifically centred on the efficiency of the innovation support infrastructure and policies. There are marked differences in the methodology and the means employed which are spelled out in detail in the information and application package. Proposals are also invited for the preparation and launching of pilot regional technology transfer projects, based on inter-regional collaboration, for demonstrating best practice in technology transfer (i.e. technology diffusion, including generic technologies, and the exploitation of R&D results) in firms. Accompanying measures cover support of networking, organization of workshops on relevant issues and methodological support to participating bodies. RITTS submissions can be made either by regional authorities from the Union and the EEA or by bodies with a formal mission regarding technology-based regional development and demonstrating commitment and backing from regional authorities. Note that, as part of the INNOVATION programme, this action is open to organizations from Central and Eastern Europe under the conditions laid out in the Decision adopted by the Council of the European Union on 30 November 1994 (Decision No 763/94/EC). For RIS projects, submissions can be made by the regional authorities responsible for economic development in the regions concerned (preferably at NUTS II level), demonstrating commitment to participation by key regional actors. For other projects, submissions can be made by any local or regional RTD and innovation-related organization demonstrating commitment to participation by regional authorities and industrial actors from several different regions. Proposals should be based on inter-regional cooperation and must have at least two participating bodies from two regions from different countries. Priority will be given to pluri-regional proposals involving consortia of three to six regions from at least three countries. At least one-third of the participating regions and of the requested financial contribution should be from Objective 1 and/or possibly Objective 6 areas. As regards RITTS and RIS projects, applicants are free to submit proposals for both actions, although only one proposal may be selected for support. Applicants should therefore indicate their preferred project. The application package accompanying this call sets out the differences between actions under RITTS and RIS. With regard to accompanying measures, proposals are sought from pan-European networks or consortia of organizations or institutions with recognized competence and know-how in the area of technology-based regional development and experience in the development of international networks. Community funding will not exceed 50% of the cost of the RIS and RITTS projects. Maximum contribution will be up to ECU 250,000 for RIS, and for RITTS in ERDF-assisted areas, and limited to ECU 175,000 ECU for RITTS in non-assisted areas. With regard to the preparation and launching of pilot regional technology transfer projects, proposals submitted to this call may have two phases: a short definition phase (when necessary); and a main demonstration phase. The Commission's financial contribution may cover up to 75% of the costs of the definition phase, without exceeding ECU 75,000. This contribution will be between ECU 1 million and ECU 3 million for the demonstration phase of the project and will cover up to a maximum of 50% of eligible costs of the pilot applications. For accompanying measures, support will cover up to 100% of organizational costs and up to 50% of travel and subsistence expenses. The indicative budgetary allocation is ECU 21 million of which ECU 15 million under the ERDF is for RIS actions and of pilot regional technology transfer projects. Detailed information about procedures and eligibility for the submission of proposals, the selection criteria, the principles governing the Commission's contribution and the application form is given in the information package accompanying this call. For further information (information package) on RIS and regional technology transfer projects, please contact (citing the reference "DG XVI Article 10 ERDF"): Commission of the European Communities Directorate-General XVI Regional Policy and Cohesion DG XVI/A-2 200 rue de la Loi(CSM1 7/43) B-1049 Brussels Fax +32-2-2950138/39/40 For RITTS projects and accompanying measures, please contact: Commission of the European Communities Directorate-General XIII The INNOVATION Programme DG XIII/D-4 JMO B4-100 Jean Monnet Building L-2920 Luxembourg Fax +352-4301-34544.