Many EU Member States have indicated in Barcelona and in Lisbon that they want to become competitive knowledge driven economies. This ambition implies that one's economy will be based on advanced technology and - more importantly - on the commercialisation of the generated knowledge in this field. In order to fulfil this ambition EU Member States will have to eliminate the so-called European Paradox and they will have to invest more efforts in the development of new tools and methodologies for effective valorisation of knowledge in order to establish a truly pan-European research area. Knowledge can be valorised in many different ways. However, a method that has proven to be very effective is the generation of new spin-off companies from universities and research institutes, not only because the knowledge, generated in a university or research institute, is directly translated into commercial activities, but also because spin-offs contribute substantially to economic growth and foster science/industry links. National and regional governments all over Europe have established a wide range of programmes to stimulate the generation of spin-offs. These programmes vary substantially. Most programmes have been designed separately, and the responsible policy makers have not always managed to exchange views and experiences with their European colleagues. Cross border cooperation between spin-off programmes and exchange of best practices does not yet take place on a large scale. This ERA-NET SSA project aims to pave the way for an ERA-NET CA project. We will identify and select appropriate European partners and we will map other initiatives in order to avoid needless duplication of work and to achieve synergy. Also, we will analyse the valorisation process in depth: we will look into the main hurdles encountered, we will detect best practices and we will examine various institutional factors that affect the valorisation process.'
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