Workshop “Innovation & Knowledge - Territorial dimensions for future EU Cohesion Policy”

Brussels, 5 October 2012

Timing :9h00 -16h00


The Europe 2020 strategy is aiming for 3% of the EU's GDP to be invested in R&D to achieve smart growth of the European territory. Each Member State sets its own target according to its self-estimated capacity in order to reach this goal for the EU as a whole. However, there is still a need to identify available resources, which can be used defining these targets at national and regional level. This information is needed for the elaboration of options to adapt regional innovation policies, ensuring that all regions contribute to the global objective of Europe 2020 in the best possible ways.

Cities and regions are facing different combinations of development problems and growth potentials. Also innovation shows rather differentiated territorial patterns and specific territorial characteristics, influencing the development of regions. The Territorial Agenda 2020 takes this aspect into consideration by promoting ‘place-based strategies developed locally to address local conditions’. The 7th progress report on economic, social and territorial cohesion assesses how, in the context of Cohesion Policy, regions and cities can contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and Europe 2020 headline targets. This is one of the main reasons Cohesion Policy uses an integrated approach that can be adjusted to local needs and opportunities.

Innovation and knowledge for the future of the European territory is also highlighted in the Commission Staff Working Document on elements for a Community Strategic Framework 2014 to 2020. It identifies as a first objective the need to strengthen research, technological development and innovation. Referring to the Flagship Initiative "Innovation Union" it is identified that research and innovation capacities should be developed across Europe, based on smart specialisation strategies.

Aim of the Workshop









The workshop served successfully its purpose of sharing experiences on the state of the European territory with regard to the innovation and knowledge economy and its implications for the elaboration of future Structural Funds programmes.
At the workshop key note speakers presented new and innovative results from the ESPON projects TIGER ‘Territorial Impact of Globalization for Europe and its Regions’, KIT ‘Knowledge, Innovation, Territory’ and AMCER ‘Advanced Monitoring and Coordination of EU R&D Policies at Regional Level’ integrating a global, European and regional perspective.








Policy-makers at European, national and regional levels expressed their ambitions and expectations with regard to recent and future innovation policies.

Altogether 56 participants from 16 countries attended the event, among them policy makers, scientists, experts, representatives of universities and research institutes.









Main conclusions from the debate on the implications of the territorial dimension of innovation can be summarized as follows:

  • One essential element in promoting innovation within a region is to foster entrepreneurship. In this respect, policy makers at regional level might strengthen innovative behavior by promoting best practices on cutting edge activities and creating incentives for entrepreneurs to take a certain risk. It was highlighted that the creativity of people is the basis for innovative activities.
  • It is important to make regional players aware of ongoing innovation activities taking place around them at regional, national and global level. Hence, policy makers on regional level are asked to be open minded and to mobilize new resources by opening up e.g. for new cooperation options e.g. cross-border activities as the interaction between regions was identified as a crucial factor. Programmes like ESPON are in this respect of high added-value by collecting data and providing results on comparative advantages. Also the AMCER project highlighted the need for accessible data, harmonized monitoring approaches and indicators. AMCER project results identify that regions have benefitted from their participation in EU programmes but face still difficulties to establish a clear link with economic performances.
  • The diffusion of knowledge and innovation is a decisive factor allowing the exploitation of the added-value of innovation activities. However, on this backdrop a clear need was identified to reach a much deeper understanding on innovation networks in the EU.
  • With regard to new knowledge developed in other parts of the world, the TIGER project highlighted that it will be critical for the EU to set-up efficient channels for the imports of knowledge, considering that it is not flowing automatically to the relevant actors within the EU.
  • Several speakers highlighted that a focus on the share of GDP spent on R&D seems to be a too narrow perspective. The KIT project, which elaborated a taxonomy taking account of diverse regional ways towards innovation based on the concept of ‘Territorial Patterns of Innovation’, identifies among others that e.g. informal sources of knowledge linked for example to creativity or the capacity of an economic system to take advantage from knowledge created elsewhere are highly relevant elements in several regions.
  • Participants outlined that the ‘Innovation Union’ is aiming to involve all regions by making use of smart specialization strategies, strengthening further place-based and evidence-based approaches highlighting that ‘thinking territorial is smart’!

Further information

Please find below the programme of the workshop and the presentations shown.

Contact: ESPON Coordination Unit at [email protected]

This Workshop is organised within the framework of the ESPON 2013 Capitalisation Strategy
(Actions related to European Seminars and Workshops).