The Vanguard Initiative welcomes the proposals in the European Commission’s Multiannual Financial Framework package, which represent an ambitious renewed agenda for EU industrial and innovation policies, as well as a clear commitment to smart specialisation principles. However it is essential that clear, concrete and detailed proposals be developed to enable effective synergies between sources of funding that support interregional collaboration along the industrial value chains.
The Vanguard Initiative believes these proposals are positive, particularly in advancing regional policies and smart specialisation from an outward-looking perspective.
We strongly support the proposed new Interreg Component 5 to facilitate interregional innovation investments, and we are asking that the proposed budget is maintained. We see it as a necessary instrument – missing so far – to strengthen EU-wide strategic collaboration of ecosystems along smart specialisation priorities in order to build and re-shape European value-chains by encouraging the synergies between investments in different regions.
We however regret the overall decline in budget for the objective of European Territorial Cooperation. In addition we are asking that third countries can be eligible to participate in the new component, allowing the effective participation of our members from the UK and potential future members from the EEA.
The Vanguard Initiative considers the proposals to be particularly ambitious and we note new and positive drivers throughout the programme, such as the emphasis on innovation, and on the diffusion and deployment of innovation, market-oriented activities, demand-driven activities and innovation ecosystems, as well as the adoption of a broad approach to innovation.
We support the new European innovation ecosystem strand, but call for effective participation of regional authorities in these activities, regions being the most appropriate level to deliver in this regard. The regional dimension of innovation should be further taken into account across the programme, notably through the strategic planning process, as well as in the renewed approach to partnerships, allowing effective synergies with the Structural Funds while maintaining the principle of excellence.
The Vanguard Initiative calls for an adequate and dedicated budget devoted to supporting pilot lines and demonstrators and related services. We are pleading for effective networking of those infrastructures with open access for SMEs for an improved efficiency in accelerating KETs uptake.
We welcome the proposal for the new European Innovation Council although we consider that there should be a priority focus on SMEs and start-ups, while SME participation in the Pillar II should also effectively be supported. A stronger connection between individual innovators and ecosystems should be ensured and bottom-up collaborative innovation projects should also be taken in consideration across the programme.
We regret that the proposals make little reference to clusters as innovation stakeholders, and seek more detail on how clusters can be engaged in Horizon Europe activities.
Single Market Programme
We welcome the programme’s continuation with a clear focus on SMEs and industrial value chains, and in particular for the proposed Joint cluster initiative.
The Vanguard Initiative welcomes the creation of the Digital Europe programme as a very positive sign of the EU’s ambition for this priority area. Digital Innovation Hubs are a crucial element and it is essential that the regional dimension be preserved, as the hubs are strongly anchored in regional innovation ecosystems.
Synergies with other programmes
It is crucial that there be a clear set of detailed proposals to enable and support synergies between the different EU programmes in support to innovation and competitiveness, allowing effective implementation of the smart specialisation approach. We favour a coherent and ambitious package of activities that support the development of interregional partnerships along industrial value chains.
The Vanguard Initiative network remains fully committed to pursuing a constructive dialogue with European Institutions in order to continue our joint endeavours towards collaborative and competitive successes for all EU regions and an appropriate implementation of those proposals.