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The European regions network for Health Research and Innovation

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - RegHealth-RI (The European regions network for Health Research and Innovation)

Reporting period: 2015-11-01 to 2016-10-31

According to the Regional Innovation Scoreboard periodically published by the EC, the research and innovation performance of the different European regions and countries varies from most advanced regions or “innovation leaders” to least ones or “modest innovators”. The Research Framework Program Horizon 2020 (H2020) and the European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIFs) are believed to be valuable instruments to reduce the gaps among regions, also supported by alternative tools like RIS3 strategies for smart specialization, aimed at improve the cohesion, economic growth, development, and competitiveness of the EU regions by setting well-defined innovation strategic priorities based on a previous analysis of strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats. Among these priorities, health is considered a driver for economic growth of many EU regions but also for the EC that has put the focus on how the divide in research and innovation on health of the various EU regions could be approached.

RegHealth-RI project aims to propose new initiatives and concrete approaches to EU, national and regional level to significantly contribute to the H2020 goals of: i) widening the participation in H2020, ii) reducing the gaps in health R&I across the EU regions, and iii) fostering synergies between H2020 and ESIFs.

The RegHealth-RI project concrete objectives are the following ones:

- Determining the State of the Art of the health Research and Innovation (R&I) activities in EU regions looking for key factors, determinants, common patterns and specific differences explaining the differences between them.
- Designing and developing indicators to measure the degree of development of the health R&I across the European regions.
- Developing networking activities and promoting the dialogue between different actors involved in health R&I in Europe.
- Discussing with different and relevant experts on the divide in European health R&I to bring possible remedial actions.
- Disseminating the project results to the appropriate stakeholders, with a special focus to EC and regional decision-makers.

The project has delivered key messages, conclusions and significant recommendations aimed at impacting on policy and decision makers in charge of designing and implementing research and innovation policies in Europe, as well as in EU countries and regions respectively, including:

- Allocate a minimum of 5% of the H2020 “health, demographic change and well-being” budget specifically to less performing European regions/countries to reduce the increasing gap in health research and innovation in Europe.
- Design appropriate (i.e. more flexible) bureaucratic and administrative procedures of ESIFs funding in order to facilitate the synergies and complementary use of different funding sources.
- Improve the alignment and interlink between health research and health innovation policies.
- Design research and innovation programmes aimed at fostering the stay/return of researchers in the region/country.
"An extended and improved version of the report of the State of the Art of health R&I describing the present situation of health R&I across EU regions and countries by means of statistical and visualization techniques has been generated. This report has also analysed common patterns, specificities and determinants of EU regions and countries, and includes a set of final policy-oriented conclusions and recommendations.

Within the Work Package 2, which is devoted to networking activities, the project consortium organized three workshops to debate on different topics:

- Madrid Workshop (18-19 June 2015 – Madrid, Spain): ""Analysis of Health R&I in less performing EU regions: Present situation, possible causes and influencing factors"".
- Trieste Workshop (26-27 November 2015 – Trieste, Italy): ""Horizon 2020: Synergies with European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs) and new ways for widening the participation"".
- Trieste Workshop (30-31 May 2016 – Zagreb, Croatia): “New approaches for bridging the divide in health R&I in the EU regions”.

These events has served to facilitate the interaction among participants from different sectors, the exchange of ideas and knowledge and finally to promote potential actions to bridge the divide in EU health R&I. Furthermore, the networking activities developed within the project has given rise to RHInG-Net, a multidisciplinary network currently formed by over 100 experts representing organizations from all over Europe, such as universities and health research institutes, national and regional authorities, pharmacy and biomedical companies, health clusters, H2020 National Contact Points (NCPs) for health, etc., in order to discuss on the main problems affecting health research and innovation of less-performing EU regions and countries. To promote the interaction among network members and promote the exchange of ideas and knowledge, an online networking platform [http://rhing-net.eu/] has been implemented on the basis of open source software, including many functionalities and services like statistics, videoconferencing, document repository, blog and posting, etc.

Most of project stakeholders and members already registered in the network have been engaged by fitting dissemination activities (Work Package 4) defined at the beginning of the project in the dissemination plan, a master document including the targeted groups, the means of dissemination to be used, the responsible for carrying out the dissemination tasks, the schedule, etc. Apart from the network platform, an embedded specific website for RegHeahtl-RI project has been created to provide main information, objectives and outputs of the project. All the dissemination materials, such as Newsletters, Press Releases, Deliverables or Workshop Presentations, are available in the section “Outputs” of the project website: http://rhing-net.eu/reghealth-ri/outputs.html

The project concluded with the celebration of the Final Conference (Work Package 3) “Bridging the Divide in European Health Research and Innovation”, which was held in Brussels on 20 October 2016. The conference was an essential tool for disseminating the major project results and conclusions together with a series of policy messages and recommendations. It was attended by around 80 experts and representatives from organizations from Europe, including EU/national/regional policy and funding agencies, business and industry, universities and research centres, non-profit organizations, etc."
From the beginning, the project has focused on trying to obtain the maximum possible impact on the three H2020 goals aforementioned, i.e. widening participation, bridging the innovation divide, and seeking synergies between H2020 and Structural Funds. In order to maximize this impact and to ensure its policy-making relevance, an appropriate dissemination strategy (which includes the engagement of project end-users, above all, EU/national/regional policy makers from the earliest stages of project) has been designed. Then, it is expected that new ideas and pragmatic approaches developed during the project will be took into consideration and implemented by decision and policy makers for these three H2020 goals. In that sense the project is expected to be useful and make impact on different levels of policy and decision making, such a DG REGIO, DG Research and Innovation, DG SANCO as well as regional/national innovation agencies, among others.
Attendees of the Zagreb Workshop of Reghealth-RI Project
Attendees of the Madrid Workshop of Reghealth-RI Project
Attendees of the Kick-off Meeting of Reghealth-RI Project in Madrid
Welcome Session of the Trieste Workshop of Reghealth-RI Project