Innovation opportunities for the SEE industry through transnational cooperation

Automation & RoboticsProjectsSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 3/2015

Innovation opportunities for the SEE industry through transnational cooperationInnovation opportunities for the SEE industry through transnational cooperation


The I3E project promoted innovation in industrial technologies and embedded systems

The I3E project was implemented under the The South East Europe Transnational Cooperation Programme. It was funded under the South East Europe (SEE) initiative with an aim to help towards the transformation of the SEE area into a knowledge-based innovation-driven economy. The project placed emphasis on two leading edge knowledge-intensive and export-oriented technology sectors that may create a competitive advantage for the area, namely industrial informatics and embedded systems.

The I3E project involved 15 partners coming from 8 countries of the SEE area and more specifically 3 from Greece, 2 from Austria, 3 from Bulgaria, 2 from Slovenia, 1 from Italy, 2 from Romania, 1 from Serbia and finally 1 from Ukraine.

Project instruments
It addressed the above challenges through two major outputs: a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) in the aforementioned sectors and a Methodology Guide on Innovation (MGI). The SRA is built taking into account similar European experiences and bringing them down to the individual needs of the SEE. Local consensus in the SEE countries among research teams both in industry and academia contributes the local research vision to the SRA.

The MGI was built on top of Best Practices relevant to the transformation of research into innovation and will provide guidelines on how mature research results may lead to innovative products and services. Innovation may be viewed as the research pay-back to the society through increasing competitiveness, quality of life, employment and environmental friendliness.

Specific goals
The project was aimed specifically at the formulation of an extensive transnational network of technology and innovation stakeholders, comprising institutions from academia and enterprises as well as facilitators of innovation including innovation poles, technology platforms, innovation clusters, existing networks of excellence and public authorities in the SEE area.

The I3E project targeted promotion of the SRA and MGI towards all stakeholders in the area through national and international workshops that will help build new capacities for adopting innovation in the sectors of interest.

Through the project a transnational Strategic Research Agenda was developed in the embedded systems and industrial informatics sectors mapping European strategies to the needs and capacities of the SEE area, built through a wide consensus building participatory process in the partner countries.

The Methodology Guide for Innovation elaborated under the project aims to provide guidance for the transformation of research results into innovative products and services, compiled through the study and analysis of international successful experiences.

As a result of the I3E implementation a transnational network community was established comprising at least 600 research and innovation stakeholders in the sectors of industrial informatics and embedded systems. Stakeholders are from the entrepreneurial world, research and academia, public administration bodies, as well as facilitators of innovation.

Last but not least, through the projects a large scale capacity building was constituted of at least 150 SMEs in the partner countries relevant to the adoption of innovation.

The BalkanMed Programme - opportunities for the 2014-2020 programming period

”INTERREG Balkan-Mediterranean 2014-2020” is a new cooperation programme, deriving from both the ”BalkanMed” project participating countries to promote cooperation in the area and the split of the ”South East Europe 2007-2013”. The programme brings together five countries, three EU member states (Bulgaria, Cyprus and Greece) and two candidate countries, Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

It is the first time ever that the European cooperation addresses the Balkan Peninsula and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea together, in a joint effort across maritime and terrestrial borders, to contribute to the ”EU 2020” strategy for smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth.

The BalkanMed programme is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with 28.330.108,00 Euros. The total support from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) fund accounts for 5.126.138,00 Euros. Therefore, the total budget of the programme, including national contribution, is 39.727.654,00 Euros.

Priorities of the BalkanMed Programme
Taking into consideration the territorial analysis, as well as the public consultation process’ results, the main needs and challenges shared by the programme actors can be grouped to the following headings: socioeconomic development and demography, environment and climate change, natural and cultural heritage. However, limited funding compelled for tougher choices.

In response to all regulatory requirements, a strong thematic focus has been promoted to address two key challenges: territorial competitiveness and environment. Accordingly, the programme is built upon the following two priority axes: ”Entrepreneurship &Innovation” and ”Environment”.

Priority Axis 1: ”Entrepreneurship & Innovation”
Entrepreneurship and innovation are powerful drivers of economic growth. As the Programme area suffers from markets’ fragmentation, high unemployment and limited labor force skills, ”Priority Axis 1” is dedicated to actions that foster the area’s entrepreneurship potential by encouraging SMEs’ cooperation and networking, clusters and clusters policies, new business models’ applications and in particular the ones promoting innovation, opens up new markets and support internationalisation.

Two ”Specific Objectives” (SO) are established to better focus the above mentioned topics. The first ”Specific Objective” (SO 1.1) promotes entrepreneurship, while the second ”Specific Objective” (SO 1.2) goes one step forward targeting innovation capacity of the SMEs.

Priority Axis 2: ”Environment”
During the public consultation process environment related issues emerged as the main challenge to address over the new programming period ahead. More than 70% consider the deterioration of the environment in the programme area as a major common threat, while over 60% perceive the natural resources’ inefficient use as one of the main problems to tackle. Accordingly, the ”Priority Axis 2” is built upon natural/cultural heritage and resources’ efficiency.

Cooperation area of the BalkanMed Programme
After a long period of various cooperation forms, the ”Balkan-Mediterranean 2014-2020” transnational cooperation programme has been identified as a structured tool to strengthen cooperation in the area, capitalising on experiences and results achieved so far.

Accordingly, the programme supports the know-how and experiences’ sharing, improvement of the public policies and networking, between national, regional and local authorities and other territorial actors of the whole Balkan-Mediterranean cooperation area. It is a new cooperation opportunity that enriches the ”European Territorial Cooperation goal” of the new programming period ahead, 2014 - 2020.

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