The EU selects three projects with Basque stakeholders to drive the European vanguard in marine energy, the circular economy and Big Data
European recognition of the Basque Country for its innovative capacity, and joint work with other European regions and partners, in the fields of marine renewable energy, the circular economy and Big Data.
In line with the European smart specialisation and innovation agenda, and thanks to the joint work and cooperation led by the Basque Country, together with other regions in the framework of the Vanguard Initiative, the EU has announced that it is to fund three projects with Basque stakeholders: one led by Scotland and the Basque Country in the field of marine renewable energy, another led by Lombardy on the circular economy (manufacturing - demanufacturing ) and a third led by Andalusia and Emilia-Romagna on traceability and big data in the agri-food sector. These projects are part of a shortlist of 8 interregional partnerships selected by the Community executive due to their innovation potential.
It is noteworthy that 4 out of the 8 interregional partnerships selected by the EU have come out of the Initiative Vanguard. This partnership, of which the Basque Country is a founding member, is currently made up of 30 European regions interested in strengthening interregional cooperation to drive new industrial growth.
The financial support for the European Union will allow these 8 selected initiatives to scale up their projects in priority sectors, such as: macrodata, the bioeconomy, efficient use of resources, advanced manufacturing technologies and cybersecurity.
As the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Crețu, stressed when announcing the selected interregional partnerships: "Regions with matching competitive strengths will be able to bring their projects to a common big table.With the right support from the EU, their goods ideas will turn into innovative products, among which you will find the European innovation stars of tomorrow."
The support for these interregional partnerships is a set of measures unveiled by the European Commission in July 2017 in order to take a further step in smart specialisation and drive innovation in EU regions in order for them to hold their own in a globalised economy. The EU backing of the interregional partnership will test new approaches to interregional cooperation and provide the European Commission with evidence to feed into the reflection on smart specialisation in 2019.
Starting in January 2018, the selected partnerships will benefit from support from expert teams established by the European Commission in the sphere of the financing. In addition to this hand-on support from the Commission, each partnership can benefit from external advisory service up to a value of €200,000 for expansion and commercialisation activities. The funds come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
European smart specialisation strategy
The EU has played a key role in unlocking the growth potential of EU regions, by helping them to invest in their niche areas of competitive strengths under the so-called "smart specialisation" strategies.
The Basque Country has likewise carried out that exercise by passing a strategic framework under the PCTI 2020, which is the Basque strategic agenda for innovation and smart specialisation. The strategic priority fields in that framework are advanced manufacturing, energy and biosciences-health, and the opportunity niches are: agri-feed sector, ecosystems and environmental regeneration, creative and cultural industries, along with tourism.
One hundred and twenty smart specialisation regional strategies have so far been adopted in Europe. Their application is backed by EUR 40 billion from cohesion policy funds.