Dear readers,

With the adoption of the new European Innovation Agenda back in July, the EU entered into an innovation spree, both at the political and operational level.

The Innovation Agenda proposes bold actions to foster deep tech innovation, a new wave of innovation, as the EU Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel highlights in her article for TerritoriALL. However, she writes, innovation policy documents - as usual - are not enough to achieve the necessary transformations. We need deep tech innovation to drive Europe’s competitiveness and to ensure the health and well-being of its citizens, she adds.

This is also the focus of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU: the possible role of societal innovations in helping the regions lagging behind, as the Czech Minister of Regional Development, Ivan Bartos, underlines.

The close correlation between economic performance and innovation is well known, according to Minister Bartos, but we need to realise that that not only states, but also regions are important actors in promoting innovation.

Indeed, the ‘Entrepreneurial Regional Governance’ study that ESPON conducted for the Czech Presidency concludes that the role of regional governance in introducing innovation into regions is essential.

But, can we diffuse innovation at the regional level, engage local actors and combine territorial competitiveness with cooperation?

We can if we focus on the societal challenges, such as climate change, the energy crisis and the disruption of supply chains. Those are common problems, yet their impacts differ strongly across countries, regions and cities, says the JRC Director for Growth and Innovation, Mikel Landabaso, introducing the Partnerships for Regional Innovation (PRI).

PRIs, Mr. Landabaso notes, propose an approach to draw linkages across multiple policy domains and funding instruments, exploit synergies and address possible tensions to generate co-benefits for the economy, society and the environment.

And while promoting interregional innovation investments and regional innovation valleys, PRIs manage to include regions lagging behind others, emphasises Tanya Hristova, Mayor of Gabrovo, and Chair of the CoR CEDEC Commission.

We must increase the synergic use of different European and national financing sources, says Ms Hristova, specifically targeted to strengthen the innovation base at local and regional levels.

And Pirita Lindholm, Director of the ERRIN Network explains that the New Innovation Agenda reinforces the links between regional smart specialisation strategies, Horizon Europe and other funding mechanisms.

The proposal to prioritise interregional innovation projects linked to key EU priorities, with the joint participation of less and more innovative regions, is important also for Maurizio Mensi, EESC rapporteur for the New European Innovation Agenda.

But is it enough, when countries outside Europe, such as Israel, have made innovation one of the defining features of their economic and social set-up, creating an environment that attracts talent and nurtures start-ups, as Mr Mensi points out?

We do not have the answer yet. But in this issue we share some good examples of regional innovation policies from regions in Czechia that make us feel a bit more optimistic. And in the interview with the new director of URBACT, Teofil Gherca, and DG Regio team leader, Thomas de Bethune you can find more information how cities can use URBACT to improve their capacities and performance.

And let’s keep in mind that also ESPON supports local, regional, national authorities and even European institutions and organisations to design innovation or innovative policies. In the last pages of the magazine we are presenting the main priorities of the ESPON 2030 Programme.

Václav Havel, in his speech ‘Europe as a task’, back in 1996, encouraged Europeans to rediscover their responsibility for global environmental, social and economic problems – as minister Bartos reminded us. The time has come to fulfil this task.

                                               Enjoy your reading

This article appears in the Regional innovation Issue of TerritoriALL

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This article appears in the Regional innovation Issue of TerritoriALL