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"Global comparison of regional RTD strategies for development and innovation" - RESTPOR'96

A conference entitled "Global comparison of regional RTD strategies for development and innovation", RESTPOR'96, will take place in Brussels on 19-21 September 1996. The conference is being organized by DG XII of the European Commission. It is the third in a series of global c...

19 September 1996 - 19 September 1996
Belgium

A conference entitled "Global comparison of regional RTD strategies for development and innovation", RESTPOR'96, will take place in Brussels on 19-21 September 1996. The conference is being organized by DG XII of the European Commission. It is the third in a series of global conferences and workshops and the first to take place in Europe.

The first of these events, entitled "Regionalization of science and technology resources in the context of globalization" (RESTPOR'93), was organized by the Japanese "National Institute for Science and Technology Policy" (NISTEP). It took place in Hachimantai, Japan, in June 1993. This was followed by a workshop on "Regional management of science and technology" (RESTPOR'95), also organized by NISTEP, which was held in Kanagawa, Japan, in February 1995. The European Commission participated in both events and, at RESTPOR'95, it was proposed that a conference be held in Europe in 1996. A RESTPOR conference will also take place in the USA in late 1997, with the prospect of a further conference in Asia (Malaysia) in 1998.

The main objective of this latest conference will be to provide a global comparative analysis of innovative regional systems, and present specific examples of the positive benefits to be wrought by the development of networks and coordinated strategies between the business sector, universities, research institutes and public authorities. Various examples of the practical and industrial application of research results and technology transfer in meeting local needs will also be reviewed.

Europe's efforts in this area have attracted positive comment from US analysts such as Prof. M. Luger: "Throughout Europe, the EC (sic) is playing an increasingly important role in promoting the development of emerging technologies in backward regions, not only through the targeting of Structural Funds, but also through such programmes as STRIDE (Science and Technology for Regional Innovation and Development in Europe), STAR and TELEMATIQUE (advanced services linked to telecommunications), VALUE (evaluation and dissemination of R&D results), IMPACT (development of the information services market), SPRINT (promotion of innovation and technology transfer) and BRITE (introduction of new technologies into production processes). These efforts are significant because of their level of resources and their reliance on input from national and regional governments."

"In Europe, the approach taken by the EC has been developed over many years as part of the attenuated process of unification. In Japan, policy adheres to the ancient proverb that says, "To learn the basics takes three years:: to achieve anything worthwhile at least ten". That should serve as a lesson for American policy makers who tend to develop regional development policy as a quick fix. In short, it takes time, coordination, and the resources to build regions that can be competitive in tomorrow's high-tech, global economy."

The two-and-a-half-day conference will be composed of a series of workshops and the final session of the conference will conclude with a high-level political roundtable to assess the results. The event will cover a number of areas outlined in a draft agenda prepared by the Commission (see text field). These include:

- Innovation Systems;
- The role of industry in regional technological development;
- Regional economic and social impact of RTD and innovation policy;
- Evaluating RTD in the regions: methodologies and indicators;
- Technology transfer and RTD networks;
- The human dimension in regional RTD;
- Between cooperation and competition: science and technology policies towards neighbouring countries;
- Regions in the global Information Society.

The preparation of RESTPOR'96 has been led by Directorate-General XII (Science, research and development) but has involved a high-degree of collaboration with other Directorates-General of the European Commission. Commenting on this, the Director of RESTPOR'96, Mr. Hugh Logue (DG XII/A-2) noted that: "the enthusiasm of the other Directorates-General in the Commission for this initiative has been reassuring. We are making every effort to encourage their involvement in a wholly inclusive approach".

It is clear from the Commission's White Paper on growth, competitiveness and employment, that in an increasingly knowledge-based global society, the competitiveness and long-term economic development of the next decade and beyond will be characterized and driven by the development, transfer and dissemination of research and technology.

A considerable amount of the Community's Structural Funds have beenn dedicated to research and technological development (RTD), with particular emphasis being placed on the role of new technologies in accelerating cohesion. While continuing in this direction, closer attention now needs to be given to other relevant dimensions such as innovation, culture, eco-technology and closer links to the business community.

The importance of RTD in regional development has, notably, been stressed by Mrs. Monika Wulf-Mathies, Commissioner responsible for regional policy and cohesion. Speaking at the Centre for European Policy Studies, on 19 October 1995, the Commissioner emphasized that: "In order to increase competitiveness, more resources should be devoted to the fields of research, development and innovation. Until now, only around 4% of the Structural Funds (Objective 1) have been used for this purpose. This is inadequate and does not correspond to the role played by research and development in increasing competitiveness through product and process innovation".

It should be noted, in this respect, that total Community (Structural Fund) support for the promotion of RTD-related activities in the regions has increased from ECU 1,998.42 million for the period 1989-1993 (4.5%), to ECU 5,730 million for the period 1994-1999 (6.4%). This is despite the fact that no Community Initiative, under the Structural Funds, is specifically focused on RTD-related activities.

The European Union is also actively promoting cooperation with third countries. In this context, an agreement on the development of EU-Japan cooperation in the field of seismic research was concluded in January 1995, and measures are being taken to increase the number of young European researchers presently working in Japan. It is also envisaged that the European Union and the USA will sign a comprehensive science and technology cooperation agreement by 1997.
For further information, please contact:

European Commission
DG XII - Science, research and development
Ms. R. D'Amario - Conference coordinator
DG XII/A-2
200 rue de la Loi (SDME 10/35)
B-1049 Brussels
Fax +32-2-2960560
E-mail: r.d'amario@mhsh.cec.be

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