Regional empowerment in actions and concepts for policy development and technology transfer

Globalization leads to greater challenges for Research and Technology Development (RTD) policies and for the competitiveness of technology oriented SMEs. However, regional innovation policy-making is in need of innovation itself: It has to be more dynamic and adaptive. This can be reached by integrating RTD issues more coherently into strategic planning and by building communities in which regional stakeholders learn to develop the regional system. The REACT project helped to achieve this goal.

REACT was implemented within the European Sixth Framework Programme and focused on regional empowerment in policy development and technology transfer. REACT offered a platform for cross-regional learning and provided concrete regional development concepts for knowledge-based technology regions in Europe.

REACT wanted to make a contribution to the development and implementation of new policy-making instruments in the fields of micro- and nanotechnologies, innovation and regional development in order to improve the environment for public research. Moreover, the project aimed at improving and fostering the link between public research bases and industry and helped to create bridges between researchers, policy makers and SMEs. REACT enabled regional stakeholders to formulate policy strategies with regard to RTD issues and would enhance and support concrete RTD concepts for knowledge-based technology regions in Europe.

The overall objective of REACT was to improve Research and Technology Development in European regions and to support innovative policy-making for technology transfer. The key question which was taken into consideration by the REACT project was: How can regions make their RTD interventions more successful? The methodology developed in this project was implemented exemplarily with a focus on micro technologies. Nevertheless, the methodological approach could be adapted to other technological fields afterwards and therefore offered a tool for sustainable regional development.

REACT was based on an interregional approach between 7 partners from 6 European regions (Limburg/NL, Styria/A, Franche-Comté/F, Thueringen/D, Southern Estonia/EE and Bratislava/SK) who brought in their experiences and good practices and shared their knowledge and competencies. Specific attention was paid to the development of a regional dimension of RTD policy-making and on the issue of mutual learning. However, the improvement of RTD policies and the application of efficient and innovative regional development instruments are main concerns for all REACT regions. Therefore, in each region an external group of regional stakeholders was nominated to be member of the so called “REACT Sounding Board”. The Sounding Board included regional policy-makers, opinion leaders, researchers, representatives of knowledge centers, investors, industry, entrepreneurs and SME’s dealing with micro technologies who aim at supporting the activities carried out during the REACT project.

The stated goals were reached by a combination of analyses of the respective regional performances, interregional exchange of experiences and exploitation and transfer. In policy terms, the co-ordinated action aimed at giving concrete recommendations for the governance of RTD policies at regional level.

Project website: REACT