Conference facilitates research innovation
With this in mind, the EU-funded project 'Organising the conference Week of Innovative Regions 2011' (WIRE2011) was initiated to improve innovation capability. Project members focused on the impact of European cluster policy and research infrastructures through a conference, social networking and study visits. Together with the European Commission, WIRE2011 successfully organised the three-day conference 'Week of Innovative Regions in Europe 2011' in Debrecen, Hungary. This was a follow-up to the WIRE2010 conference in Spain. Over 500 stakeholders from academia, research organisations and industry participated. Under discussion were aspects such as funding and research investment sources such as Framework Programme (FP), Structural Funds (SFs) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP). Major emphasis was placed on optimising resource allocation for better regional research and innovation performance to improve competitiveness. To support research-driven cluster development, the orientation of a future European research and innovation plan and the benefits of regional research infrastructures were also discussed. The importance of research infrastructure and regional clusters, networking and the research infrastructure register was also highlighted. Eighteen clusters, regions and research infrastructures also presented their best practices at the conference exhibition. Several recommendations and conclusions were formulated and the key findings of the conference were put together under a document titled Debrecen Declaration. The Debrecen Declaration was expected to provide important feedback for the Competitiveness Council meeting under the Polish Presidency. Ultimately, WIRE2011 succeeded in identifying factors at regional and European levels that need to be addressed to support innovation and economic growth. Key measures will be the development and upgrading of research infrastructures, and research-driven clusters enabling smart specialisation strategies and cohesive policies at European, national and regional levels. Such partnerships, optimal resource allocation and improved collaborations will foster sustainable economic growth and innovation in line with Europe's 2020 strategy.