As the EU heads towards its significant milestone of 2020, the time is optimal to align regional and national strategies for innovation and competiveness with those of the EU itself. It was as far back as 2010, in response to the world economic crisis that started in 2008, that the EU produced its Europe 2020 strategy proposal “which strives for ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ and greater policy coordination between the EU and national governments. While the document was greeted with scepticism in some quarters, others believed it laid out the path to continued European prosperity and social cohesion”.
The EU policy makers continued to be focused on their agenda and produced the EU cohesion strategy of which Horizon 2020 is the key flagship policy agenda. eDIGIREGION, albeit it funded within the Seventh Framework Programme under the Regions’ Theme of transnational cooperation between regional research-driven clusters, is a project that will ready regions to take full advantage of Horizon 2020 in the smart specialisation domain of the EU Digital Agenda.
A key challenge in making Europe more innovative (and consequently, more competitive) is to reduce the level of fragmentation in EU R&D efforts, increase the level of research-industry linkages and increase the level of cooperation between regional stakeholders engaged in the innovation process through the creation of regional innovation systems. The Regions for Economic Change initiative, identified that cluster policies can play a prominent role in enhancing a region’s innovation capacity. More recently, the EU Heads of State of Government underlined the need to better coordinate the framework conditions for innovation “including through improved science-industry linkages and world-class innovation clusters and the development of regional clusters and networks”. eDIGIREGION will support the development of high-potential research-driven clusters in the technology domains of the Digital Agenda.