On 28 March, Vanguard initiative regions were present at the Partnership for Regional Innovation (PRI) event held at the European Commission to celebrate the achievements of the PRI in fostering cross-border interregional value chains.
The event provided an overview of the PRI and its achievements through speeches and panel discussions, both from the political and the scientific perspective.
Representatives from Vanguard Initiative regions participated in the high-level panel discussions, highlighting the vital role of the Vanguard Initiative in allowing to combine regional and European innovation and industrial policy priorities. Florence Hennart, Senior advisor in the Economic Policy Directorate at the Walloon administration for Economy, Employment and Research and lead of the VI’s Policy Influencing Task Group stressed that “integrating the link between regional policies and EU priorities from the start is key to develop effective synergies and multi-level governance."
The event was also the opportunity for the European Commission to announce the opening of a call for expression of interest for Regional Innovation Valleys, aimed at connecting EU territories and strengthening innovation.
The VI regions welcome the call since it has, since its creation and following the Milan’s declaration political commitment, served the same objective as the one proposed in the call: to work together based on but not limited to Smart Specialisation strategies, meeting specific local challenges and needs, whilst contributing to the European Union’s strategic priorities.
The European Commission is also in the process of launching two calls for proposals on 17 May 2023 under the European Innovation Ecosystems (EIE) part of Horizon Europe, and the Interregional Innovative Investments (I3) of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). A total of €170 million is allocated, €100 million and €70 million respectively, with a focus on addressing the innovation divide.
The event provided the opportunity for Vanguard Initiative regions to highlight the VI key role in facilitating access to such funding opportunities as well as fostering synergies, co-funding and co-investment amongst VI regions, as Cristina Uriarte Toledo, Commissioner for Science, Technology and Innovation of the Basque Government, stressed that “The Interregional Funding Mechanism that VI is developing to pool regional funds to finance interregional collaborations will be instrumental for the upcoming call on the Regional Innovation Valleys.”