Ambition

The Vanguard Initiative new growth through smart specialisation is driven by a political commitment made by regions to use their smart specialisation strategy to boost new growth through bottom-up entrepreneurial innovation and industrial renewal in European priority areas. The political leadership in every partner region has undertaken this commitment by signing the Milan Declaration.

Our proposals are shaped as the ‘Vanguard Initiative’ because we are convinced that leadership and strong partnerships are needed to achieve this ambition. Our political engagement to position the smart specialisation agenda at the centre of the EU’s drive for new growth is based on a firm belief that entrepreneurship and common policy goals will provide the stimulus for revitalising European industrial growth.

This Vanguard Initiative has its foundations at the regional level. EU regions are the closest policy link to the bottom-up growth dynamics necessary for the renewal of our industrial fabric through their proximity to innovative partnerships and clusters. Such partnerships and clusters form eco-systems that are the catalyst for fast-growing innovative SMEs. Regional innovation ecosystems can and do develop solutions for significant societal challenges while delivering on the EU’s ambitions for improved international competitiveness.

The Vanguard Initiative seeks to lead by example in developing interregional cooperation and multi-level governance for supporting clusters and regional eco-systems to focus on smart specialisations in priority areas for transforming and emerging industries. Vanguard regions want to build the synergies and complementarities in smart specialisation strategies to boost world-class clusters and cluster networks, in particular through pilots and large-scale demonstrators. These investments will strengthen Europe’s competitive capacity to lead in new industries in the future and develop lead markets that offer solutions to our common challenges.