Archive for the ‘Region – Europe’ Category

EC emphasis on regional specialisation

October 18, 2011

 There is a widely-shared consensus across Europe that mobilising innovation potential of all regions is the way forward.

 To this end, a recent European Commission study ‘Regional Policy for Smart Growth in Europe 2020’ (Directorate-General for Regional Policy) calls for a refocusing of regional policy. It makes four suggestions that make a lot of sense for all regions. (Our comments are in brackets).

 1. Develop smart specialisation strategies

 This calls for regions to concentrate on the most promising areas of competitive advantage based on clusters, cross-sectoral activities, innovative services, high value-added markets etc. The strategies should be subjected to international peer review. (Yes – sticking to the principles of competitive advantage you hold the high ground! International peer review also provides the objectivity sought by potential investors.)

 2. Redirect programs

 The EC study proposes that the substantial funds available under the EC regional cohesion policy be redirected to programs that conform with a smart specialisation approach. (This could theoretically improve the performance of regions i.e. program funds would go to those fields with the greatest economic potential).

 3. Interregional cooperation

 This recommendation is for better access to international research and innovation networks and for EC member states to run their own projects to this end. It calls for improved knowledge transfer and the use of the “Regions for Economic Change” and “RegioStars” initiatives. (This is most interesting e.g. there is interaction between Australian and EC academics, but it rarely extends into policy research. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if our academics got involved in international research that could underpin government policy!)

 4. Develop a “smart specialisation platform”

 The EC study recommends the marshalling of expertise from universities, research centres, regional authorities, businesses etc. to formulate and implement smart specialisation strategies by national and regional governments. (Regions in most nations are crying out for ways of aligning resources and program support to attract investors. Collaboration between federal, state and local governments to develop such pathways would really shake things up! Companies do it, why shouldn’t governments?)


Lifetime care for people with a disability (BEST PRACTICE)

July 14, 2010

Australian politician, Bill Shorten, is talking up the idea of national lifetime care and support system for those with disabilities, and he is awaiting the Productivity Commission enquiry.

Our reading of the terms of reference is that the PC will be take a clinical look at things, and ‘compassionate’ issues like lifetime care won’t get much of a run. This will be a shame because life is tough for those with disabilities, and their carers. The better prospect might be the National Disability Strategy being released shortly.

 In this context, local stakeholders have first-hand experience, and hence the opportunity to leverage initiatives if they see fit. To my mind, if Shorten is talking about lifetime care, then local groups might pursue what he actually means, and take things from there. It presumably means physical and mental health, education and training, work, leisure, aged care etc. From our recent research it seems that Sweden is implementing some smart agendas in the disability field.

 It was also interesting to note that in April in Madrid, EU tourism ministers agreed to facilitate ‘the access to holidays to groups with impaired mobility or those who are socially and/or economically disadvantaged.’ This could take many forms, and it will be interesting to track progress.


Angles for Cockatoo members

  • §          If you’ve an interest in this field, the EC work should be on your radar. Tourism and leisure surely fits within a lifetime support system of all developed nations.
  • §          The hot spots might be those towns already strong in aged care, with the infrastructure in place, and close to the major cities to avoid lengthy travel. The hosting of a disability conference might be the trigger? Contact us to chew the fat. 


Creative Arts update from the USA and Europe

July 14, 2010

 The Washington Economic Partnership has released the report on the city’s creative economy. Conducted by Mt. Auburn Associates with RTS, the Creative DC Action Agenda found that DC’s creative economy generated $5 billion annually in income and accounted for more than 75,000 direct jobs. The report can be downloaded at

 Charleston, South Carolinaa recent RTS study of Charlestone’s creative economy found that it represents much more than the world-famous Spoleto Festival. The creative economy cluster has 18,600 jobs, making it one top five largest clusters in the Charleston economy. The prominent sub-clusters include the culinary arts, with scores of innovative restaurants highlighting the cuisine of the Low Country, and architecture and urban design, which showcase Charleston’s extraordinary historic preservation efforts.

 The European Union has issued a Green PaperUnlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries”. It notes that “immaterial value increasingly determines material value, as consumers are looking for new and enriching ‘experiences’. The Green Paper explains how to foster art and design school/business partnerships to promote incubation and entrepreneurship; how to strengthen the integration of creative industries into strategic regional  development; how to promote cultural diversity; how to stimulate spillover effects. Go to doc2577_en.htm.

 Contributed by Stu Rosenfeld (CraftNet)

Europe’s shame

May 25, 2010

The EU is launching a public debate on agricultural policy, with a view to policy changes by 2013. It says the current policies face “major challenges” from climate change, food availability and resource pressures.

The EU says its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) seeks to guarantee farmers a reasonable standard of living, ensure sufficient food at fair prices, and preserve Europe’s rural heritage.

BUT the reality is that the CAP accounts for 40% of the EU’s budget – it was almost 50% a couple of years back. It is arguably the world’s greatest industry subsidy scheme in terms of cost (€55bn a year) and duration (53 years!) and impact on other nations. By artificially inflating costs, it’s been a major factor in the worldwide rise in food prices and has seriously damaged trade and consigned many developing nations to subsistence production. 

Regrettably a recent EU survey shows 6/10 Europeans continue to support for it. Go to

EU reinforces innovation thrust

April 15, 2009

‘Higher, more effective and efficient investments in education, research and innovation are a key factor for the sustainable long-term growth of a competitive European economy and should remain a high priority’ – this is one of the recommendations adopted by EU research ministers at the Competitiveness Council meeting in Brussels, Belgium on 5 and 6 March.


The Ministers also highlight the importance of reaching the goal of investing 3% GDP in R&D.


Elsewhere in the recommendations, the ministers call on Member States to encourage universities, research institutes and industry to ‘step up their cooperation’; the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) will play a key role in achieving this goal.


According to the ministers, the role of frontier research needs to be ‘reinforced’. Furthermore, as the ministers noted, the review of the structures and mechanisms of the European Research Council (ERC) should be a priority.


The Ministers unanimously adopted over 30 recommendations and key messages on how Europe should respond to the current economic downturn. Got to


Contributed by Professor Roy Green.

EC to develop cluster groups

April 15, 2009

A new group is to help EU members develop world-class cluster groups.


The European Cluster Policy Group will meet four times a year and will organise two study visits to identify best practice in cluster groups.


The group will make recommendations on cluster policy, assess trends in international cluster development, identify future challenges and tools for removing barriers to cluster development.

Europe’s chemicals industry calls for cluster lifebuoy

February 20, 2009


Much of industrialized Europe owes its success to the dynamic growth of its chemicals companies, especially in the post-war period.

As Europe moves inexorably into a major recession, it is interesting to note that networks and clusters are being recommended by key EU agency.

The European chemicals industry employs 1.2 million people and is a world trade leader. In February 2009, the High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the European Chemicals Industry tabled its final report. It analyses the industry’s key challenges and makes 40 recommendations to this end.

 The key challenges for the industry are:

 The increasingly difficult energy and feedstock situation with a high impact on costs.

 Climate change, and global environmental challenges.

  Strong competition from emerging countries and barriers to market access in these countries.

The HLG highlighted three key factors for the continuing success of the chemical industry:

1. More innovation and research and strengthening networks and clusters to secure its competitiveness and sustainability. More innovation needs greater private commitment and a favourable policy framework.

2. Responsible use of natural resources and a level playing field for sourcing energy and feedstock. Constant efforts to improve efficiency and to provide innovative solutions to energy saving targets

3. Open world markets with fair competition to fully unlock its potential.

See: Pressemitteilung / Press release / Communiqué de presse

EC calls for cooperation on research

November 12, 2008


The EC has called on EU member states to develop strategic research partnerships in science and technology, with countries outside the EU.


A strategic framework, outlined by European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potocnik, identifies strengthening the international dimension of European research, and improving infrastructure to allow for the development of large-scale co-operative research projects, as key developments.


He said: “The aim of our strategic framework is to engage with our member states to transform Europe’s research labyrinth into a European Research Area open to the world, attracting the best brains and contributing to address global challenges”.

EC Innovation Hubs – pointer for other regions!

September 22, 2008


In 2005, EC President José Manuel Barroso came up with the idea of EC innovation hubs. And the Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is now working towards the launch in 2009 of the first hubs – to be known as Knowledge and Innovation Centres (KICs).


They will cover climate change, renewable energy and ICT. The first Board meeting is in Budapest on 15 September.


The details have not been revealed, but there are references to virtual centres of scientific collaboration, and the bringing together of ‘departments of universities, companies and research institutes to form an integrated partnership to perform education and innovation activities in inter-disciplinary strategic areas’.


Sounds like the usual stuff, although the difference is that they’re aiming to stimulate collaboration across the EC. It provides an interesting precedent for ASEAN and APEC as they attempt to harness technological collaboration in the Asia Pacific region. The Cooperative Research Centres (Australia) and Crown Research Institutes (New Zealand) could provide nodes of such networks. However it will be some time before the CRCs are ready to drive international collaboration. Their combined track record has been underwhelming, and the recent review of the CRC Program makes no major references to the role of CRCs in international collaboration. (Source: EDGE News)

Go to

Globalization winners in EU

February 10, 2008

A new OECD research paper examines how various EU countries are equipped to cope with globalization via flexible labor market policies, effective innovation frameworks, and high quality education and workforce systems.

It says Western Europe, especially Scandinavia, is well-situated to prosper but not Italy because its export mix competes with China and other developing economies.

Southern and Eastern European countries will be similarly challenged as they compete for low-wage assembly jobs in global supply chains.

Intra-EU trade might fall, as more established EU economies opt to trade with the developing world. France and Italy are poorly equipped for globalization shocks due to weaknesses in labor and product markets.

Go to “Globalization and the European Union: Which Countries are Best Placed to Cope?”