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EU Local and Regional Authorities' Contribution to the

Mid-term Review of Europe 2020

Assessment of the Innovation Union flagship initiative

Three years after its launch, the Committee of the Regions will take stock of the Innovation Union flagship initiative at a conference to be held on 27 November 2013 in Brussels. This conference will be the seventh in a series of CoR events and monitoring initiatives surrounding the mid-term review of Europe 2020. More news on this conference can be found on the CoR website[1].

By participating in this survey, you will:

ensure that your views are taken into account in the debate held during the conference;

contribute to the CoR's consultative activity in this field over the coming months;

provide input to the CoR's contribution to the mid-term review of Europe 2020.

If you wish to participate in this survey, please complete this questionnaire in any eu language, using the spaces provided, and return it in text format to:

by 27 September 2013

For more information on this survey and for details on how to join the

Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform, go to:

The questionnaire is available on this website in all official EU languages

You can find more information on Innovation Union, as seen from thelocal and regional authorities' viewpoint, in the Committee of the Regions' publication Delivering on the Europe 2020 Strategy - A Handbook for Local and Regional Authorities[2]. General information on Europe 2020 may be found on the strategy's official website[3].

Contributor information[4]

Name of sender: / Ioannis Sgouros
Contact details:
(address, telephone, email) / Syngrou Avenue 15-17, 11743 Athens
On behalf of:
(name of local or regional authority) / Region of Attica
Type of organisation / City/Town/Municipality Region
County/Province Association of local and/or regional authorities
Other (please specify)
Country: / GREECE
Member of the EUROPE 2020 Monitoring Platform: / Yes No

Policy challenges and responses at regional and local level

Innovation Union as specified in the European Commission's Communication
The Innovation Union initiative[5] was adopted in 2010, as an integral part of Europe 2020[6]. The overall aim of this flagship initiative is to re-focus research and development (R&D) and innovation policy on the challenges facing our society, such as climate change, energy, health and demographic change. Innovation Union is a crucial investment in our future. For example, it is estimated that achieving the target of investing 3% of EU GDP on R&D by 2020 could create 3.7 million jobs and increase annual GDP by €795 billion by 2025. The flagship initiative contains the following aims:
  1. In times of fiscal constraints, the EU and Member States need to continue to invest in education, R&D, innovation and ICTs.
  2. EU and national research & innovation systems need to be better linked up with each other and their performance improved.
  3. Education systems at all levels need to be modernised. Excellence must become the guiding principle even more than before. Researchers and innovators must be able to work and cooperate across the EU as easily as within national borders. The European Research Area must be completed.
  4. Access to EU programmes must be simplified and their leverage effect on private sector investment enhanced, since our research needs to result in more innovation. Cooperation between the worlds of science and business must be enhanced, obstacles removed and incentives put in place.
  5. The remaining barriers for entrepreneurs to bring "ideas to market" must be removed: we must have better access to finance, particularly for SMEs, affordable intellectual property rights, smarter and more ambitious regulations and targets and a faster setting of interoperable standards.
  6. European Innovation Partnerships should be launched.
  7. Strengths in design and creativity must be better exploited.
  8. Social innovation must be championed and a better understanding of public sector innovation developed, identifying and giving visibility to successful initiatives.
  9. Better work with our international partners is needed. That also means adopting a common EU front where needed in international (trade) negotiations.
The Innovation Union flagship initiative has evolved since its launch in 2010. New building blocks, such as the Smart Specialisation Platform and five European Innovation Partnerships have already been launched (the EIPs on: Active and Healthy Ageing; Agricultural Sustainability and Productivity; Smart Cities and Communities; Water; and Raw Materials). All these elements as well as news of events are publicly available on or through the EU Commission's dedicated Innovation Union website.
1) What type of policy programmes/actions are being implemented in your city/region to support the policy goals of the Innovation Union (see Box 1)?
1.1 Investing in R&D, innovation and ICT (own resources, public-private partnerships, other sources…) / Policy programmes/actions contributing to this aim?
Yes No Don’t know
Brief description:
With respect to R&D, innovation and ICT policies, the decision-making system in Greece up to the third programming period was completely centralised. Programmes and activities taking place in Attica were planned and implemented by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology of the Education Ministry and by certain departments of the Ministry of Development and the Ministry of Administrative Reform (ICT).
However, under Attica's operational programme for 2007-2013, over EUR1079million has been earmarked for measures to support innovation, competitiveness and digital convergence in Attica. During the same period the region has also funded R&D activities from its own resources (electric car project in cooperation with Athens National Technical University) and innovative public infrastructure under the heading of energy efficiency. It took part in transnational activities in Europe to promote innovation in the creative and manufacturing sectors. It also concluded a catalytic social innovation agreement (in cooperation with a spin-off company of Patras University).
During the fourth programming period, the Greek regions gained an important role in framing and implementing specific policies as part of their territorial remit. Some 60% of funding for Attica's 2007-2013 operational programme will be earmarked for development and innovation promotion programmes in Attica. Target sectors will be identified in Attica's smart specialisation strategy guidelines, which are currently being drawn up.
1.2 Providing support to potential beneficiaries to access EU funds and participate in EU initiatives in the field of research and innovation / Policy programmes/actions contributing to this aim?
Yes No Don’t know
Brief description:
As part of Attica's 2007-2013 operational programme and support during the process of submitting proposals for the FP7 programmes.
1.3 Encouraging the use of the results of research projects in innovative products and services / Policy programmes/actions contributing to this aim?
Yes No Don’t know
Brief description:
There has been no such activity as a direct result of any policy of the region of Attica. The failure to commercialise the results of research programmes is a basic weakness of the national innovation system. During the next programming period, the region must use its strengthened role to plan and implement R&D and innovation policies at regional level.
1.4 Removing barriers to innovation, such as expensive intellectual property rights and limited access to finance / Policy programmes/actions contributing to this aim?
Yes No Don’t know
Brief description:
There has been no such activity as a direct result of any policy of the region of Attica.
1.5 Participating in one of the European Innovation Partnerships / Policy programmes/actions contributing to this aim?
Yes No Don’t know
1.6 Stimulating social innovation / Policy programmes/actions contributing to this aim?
Yes No Don’t know
Brief description:
Initiatives to promote social innovation are not generally seen in Greece. However, Attica has concluded a catalytic agreement with a spin-off company of Patras University to install SEATRAC systems that give beach access to people with mobility problems. The SEATRAC systems were developed by the research committee of Patras University.
1.7 Cooperation with international partners in the field of research and innovation / Policy programmes/actions contributing to this aim?
Yes No Don’t know
Brief description:
From 2010 to 2013, the region took part in three transnational projects to promote innovation. Two of these involved SMEs in the creative sector and the other related to energy-saving in school buildings.
1.8 Encouraging innovation in the public sector[7] / Policy programmes/actions contributing to this aim?
Yes No Don’t know
Brief description:
Attica is trying to improve public services, to simplify its internal processes and to reduce its operating costs by designing and introducing novel ICT applications.
2) One of the main aims of the Europe 2020 Strategy is to increase investments in R&D to 3% of EU GDP. This target is underpinned by several actions under Innovation Union. The latest Innovation Union Scoreboard[8] of the European Commission, a progress monitoring tool, shows that there are big differences in the progress made towards this target across the EU. Which of the following challenges would you consider as the most urgent to address?
Multiple answers possible
Under-investment in the existing knowledge base (infrastructure, public research centres etc.);
Poor access to finance for innovative start-ups;
High costs of intellectual property rights (IPRs);
Ineffective use of the innovation possibilities offered by public procurement;
Fragmentation and costly duplication of projects and programmes;
No strategic approach to innovation at national level;
No real cooperation between research and industry, limited scale of bringing ideas to market;
So-called "brain-drain" (best talents leaving Europe for opportunities elsewhere);
Other (please specify)
EU state aid and competition rules focus too much on procedures as opposed to outcomes. The Member States should have more latitude to take action on the supply side and more instruments at their disposal with which they can really help to turn (industrial) production around and develop new markets for products and services. Linkingthese with basic sectoral policies (e.g. environment and energy policy), social protection and administrative reform is key to the success of public R&D and innovation policies.
Regional Policy contributing to smart growth in Europe
The Communication of the European Commission entitled "Regional Policy contributing to smart growth in Europe 2020[9]" [COM(2010) 553] sets out the role of regional policy in implementing the Europe 2020 strategy[10] in the area of smart growth and in particular the flagship initiative Innovation Union.[11] The Communication calls on national and regional governments to develop smart specialisation strategies to maximise the impact of regional policy in combination with other EU policies. As a follow-up, in June 2011 the European Commission launched an online platform with a set of tools which can be used to optimise the development of local and regional smart strategies. The Smart Specialisation Platform (SPP) provides users with practical guidelines such as the latest news and events, as well as many other features. In the Communication document, the European Commission provides a non-exhaustive list of ideas which regions could use to design their strategies:
1. Innovation clusters for regional growth
Clusters provide a favourable environment for fostering competitiveness and driving innovation. Support for their development needs to be concentrated on areas of comparative advantage.
2. Innovation-friendly business environments for SMEs
Regional and national authorities should support innovation-friendly business environments to assist SMEs, R&D-intensive ones especially, and the creation of new firms.
3. Lifelong learning in research and innovation
Focusing school, vocational and higher education curricula on cross-sector skills such as creativity and entrepreneurship will help young people to develop their full potential for innovation.
4. Attractive regional research infrastructure and centres of competence
National and regional authorities should consider, in particular, how EU regional policy can contribute to the 2015 objective of the Innovation Union flagship of completing or initiating 60% of the research infrastructure currently identified by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI)[12].

5. Creativity and cultural industries

Cultural and creative industries, which flourish at local and regional level, are in a strategic position to link creativity and innovation.[13] They should be integrated into regional development strategies.
6. Digital Agenda
With regard to the significance of ICT for the innovation system, Member States should consider how to better use the ERDF to accelerate achievement of the EU 2020 objectives for broadband access.
7. Public procurement
Innovative public procurement means the public sector taking on the role and risks of a lead customer, while improving the quality of its services and productivity.
3) In line with the Innovation Union flagship initiative and the additional Communication on "Regional Policy contributing to smart growth in Europe 2020" (see Box 2), local and regional authorities are encouraged to build smart specialisation strategies, as a condition for having access to EU Structural Funds available for investments in research and innovation. Does your region/city have a smart specialisation strategy?
Yes No Don’t know
If you answered "yes" please describe briefly its main elements and the opportunities you have identified in your smart specialisation strategy, corresponding to the list in Box 2.
Attica's smart specialisation strategy is in the process of being drawn up and finalised.
If you answered "no" please let us know whether your region/city was asked by your national government to initiate a smart specialisation strategy.
Yes No Don’t know
4) Innovation Union and the concept of smart specialisation encourage a better integration of cultural and creative industries in the overall economic development. Although they have a high innovation potential, they are not always included in strategies or projects. Are cultural and creative industries included in the economic development strategy and/or in the smart specialisation strategy of your city/region?
Yes No Don’t know
If you answered "yes" please describe how.
This will be decided with the final version of the strategy.

How is the Innovation Union relevant to your city or region?

5) The Innovation Union contains 34 actions, which are listed with a detailed description on a dedicated platform: Innovation Union Information and Intelligence system (I3S)[14]. All actions are grouped under 12 thematic headings and an additional one on monitoring progress.[15] In your opinion and from a regional perspective, please state in which of these chapters has the EU made the most significant progress, which ones have good prospects and in which ones has the EU not done enough.
Significant progress / Some progress and good prospects / No visible progress, more effort needed
Promoting excellence in education and skills development
Delivering measures for the European Research Area to be completed by 2014
Focusing EU funding instruments on Innovation Union priorities
Promoting the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and its Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) as a model of innovation governance in Europe
Enhancing access to finance for innovative companies
Creating a single innovation market
Promoting openness and capitalising on Europe's creative potential
Spreading the benefits of innovation across the EU
Increasing social benefits
Pooling forces to achieve breakthroughs: European Innovation Partnerships
Leveraging our policies externally
Reforming research and innovation systems
Additional comments:
6) Overall, what are the strong and weak pointsof theInnovation Unionflagship initiative, as seen from your regional/local standpoint?
It is clear that the Innovation Union flagship initiative is a unique toolfor improving the innovative performance of the EU. Applying it to public procurement (innovative contracts and promotion of innovation in the public sector) and to social innovation significantly improves the scope for public bodies to intervene in the innovation process (subject, of course, to competition and state aid rules). However, we must be careful to ensure that this initiative does not entrench the innovation gap seen within the EU - where some regions produce and pioneer innovation while others are simply users and consumers of new applications.
7)Would you recommend any specific changes to the Innovation Unionflagship initiative, during the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy in 2014?
Please explain
The text of the Europe 2020 strategy shows a one-sided emphasis on ICT, services and energy efficiency. On the other hand, industrial production is mentioned only indirectly, with the focus mainly on how we can change the business models of traditional sectors by adopting innovations mainly from the ICT sector. Thus a more focused and analytical approach is needed to the industrial sector under Europe 2020, given that industrial production creates a critical mass of jobs and is also a user of services provided by ICT companies.

Are your country's policies relevant to your city or region?

8)Does your country's 2013 (current) National Reform Programme[16] (NRP) for Europe 2020 adequately respond to your regional/local needs in the policy areas covered by the Innovation Union flagship initiative (e.g. investments in R&D, bringing ideas to market, smart specialisation)?
Yes No Don’t know
Please explain
In Greece's case, the NRPin practice reflects the country's economic adjustment programme. The priority of the NRP is not promoting innovation in Greece, but rather fiscal adjustment. Thus in the short term, the NRP does not adequately meet Attica's needs in relation to the policy areas covered by the Innovation Union flagship initiative. However, in the long term, fixing the public finances could make a decisive contribution to improving innovative performance, in Attica and the rest of the country.
9) Would you suggest any changes in your country's National Reform Programme for 2014 in the area of innovation?
Yes No Don’t know
Please explain
This does not fall within the remit of the region.

Policy and funding issues

10)Which of the sources of funding listed below are used to finance your actions under the Innovation Unionflagship initiative? Are any other policy/financial instruments involved?
Multiple answers possible
FP7 (The Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development)
Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP, 2007-2013):
► Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP)
► Intelligent Energy-Europe Programme
European Regional Development Fund
The Lifelong Learning Programme
Others? Please specify: ......
11)Are any of the actions you have undertaken to implement the Innovation Unionflagship initiative (as stated in your answers to questions 1 and 2) carried out in partnership with different tiers of government? If so, please state (a) which administrative levels are involved and (b) which practical arrangements are taken to manage these actions jointly.
(a) In some cases central and local government departments are involved, as well as other public bodies.
(b) The most frequent tool used is the programme contract pursuant to Law No 3852/2010.
12)The policy goals under Innovation Union require an integrated, multi-sector approach. They can be achieved only if relevant stakeholders are also involved. Do you have a strategy for involving these various actors, such as the different research institutions, innovation centres, hi-tech companies (especially SMEs) and members of the public? If so, what kind of involvement have you pursued (e.g. information campaigns, dedicated events, PPPs)?
Please explain.
The elected regional government is a new institution in the Greek administrative system. Less than three years since it started operating, the region of Attica has managed to put together at operational level an innovation policy thematic network involving know-how transfer bodies, technology parks, university entrepreneurship and innovation units, etc. Specific measures have been taken in this network (mainly with SME companies in the creative sector). A network of experts has also been set up in conjunction with framing the smart specialisation strategy. The big challenge for Attica in the next phase will be to mobilise these networks for the 2014-2020 operational programme.
13)Please add any further comments you wish to make on the issues covered in this questionnaire.
As part of the preparations for the CoR conference to be held on 27 November 2013 and to showcase good practices in areas covered by the Innovation Union flagship initiative (e.g. smart specialisation strategies, hi-tech clusters, bringing ideas to market, innovation in public administration), you are invited to submit examples of good practice from your local area.
Please complete the form available on our website:

To help convey the voice of EU cities and regions in the implementation of Europe 2020 at EU level and in your country, join us. For more information, visit: