By Nikos G. SYKAS – Strategy, Communication and Innovation Advisor
This article–suggestion is my contribution in the framework of the European Committee of the Regions’ initiative “Citizens’ Dialogue on the Future of Europe”. This particularly important and timely event is organised today by the Municipality of Strovolos in co-operation with the Committee of the Regions, the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus, the University of Cyprus, the Cyprus Youth Organisation and the NGOOXygon.
My suggestion concerns the establishment of a new Scheme called “Innovation Regions” aimed at producing local innovations with a European impact and a global perspective – in a quicker, cheaper and smarter manner.
The “Innovation Regions” combines all aspects of the innovation ecosystem:
1. Companies, institutions, organisations and various incentives and “innovation drivers”acting as innovation boosters.
2.Appropriate infrastructure and facilities promoting space integration and connectivity.
3.Strengthening of relations and close cooperation between all parties involved–creating a culture of innovation. The innovation ecosystem constitutes a collaborative relationship amongst persons, companies and the geographical territory, therefore encouraging the development of ideas and speeding up the commercialisation of innovations.
The co-operation of Local Authorities in innovation management and European programmes: a)Achieves the required critical mass in terms of infrastructure, resources and expertise and, b) brings together all key innovation partners, building on the structural features, crucial relations, proximity and immediacy of Local Authorities with civil society.
The objective of the “Innovation Regions” Scheme is to develop new products/services and solutions, taking into account the specificities, needs, potentials and especially the comparative advantages of each region. New innovations should generate added value both at local/regional and pan-European level. Thanks to this project, local communities will have the opportunity to make the most of the various European programmes such as Horizon Europe, Digital Europe, Cohesion Policy funds, etc.
The implementation of the above Scheme can serve as a driverfor development reform and upgrading of the Local Government.The creation of Regions/Innovation Clusters with an increased economic, scientific and technical capacity: a)Ensures efficiency in the management of European programmes, b) enables Local Authorities to implement innovative projects and programmes of supra-regional importance and take advantage of the development opportunities available and c) brings multiple economic, social and environmental benefits (e.g. more sustainable and resilient agglomerations).About two-thirds of Europe’s economic growth over the last decades has been driven by innovation.
The key players of an effective National Research and Innovation System can be codified as follows: a fertile innovation ecosystem, a culture of creativity and innovation, a suitable institutional framework, synergy between the public and the private sector, a critical mass of factors and infrastructure, adequate funding, incentives, fostering of innovative entrepreneurship, research excellence, knowledge transfer and commercialization, strengthening of the international dimension and openness, communication strategy/branding, development of economic and scientific diplomacy and of modern “cross-cutting” tools.
The “Innovation Regions” Scheme can be implemented with the help of the new Innovation Model that I have developed. This Innovation Model:
1.Increases creativity and deepens the strategy in the innovation process, by multiplying the chances of achieving innovative results. It follows a more holistic approach that covers all stages of the innovation cycle: from developing the creative concept and transforming it into innovation through the transfer/dissemination of results to different sectors and fields.
2. Bridges the “Valley of Death’ –the most critical stage in the take-up of a new innovation– by focusing on the following key factors: a) Diversification, uniqueness, b) branding, c) strategic positioning, d) product and market matching and, e) effective advertising both during the launch and development phases.
3.Applies to all sectors (public and private sector, circular economy, smart cities) and to all scales (products/services, start-ups – spinoffs, small and medium-sized enterprises, large companies).
To conclude: the new strategic tool –presented in a comprehensive Innovation Manual that I have prepared– can: a) Improve the efficiency of the government and businesses, b) help members of organizationsproduce more and better innovations and, c) contribute to the development of successful proposals/applications under the new Horizon Europe programme.
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