The initiative of RIS
The European Experience
Epirus is one of the five (5) Greek regions chosen by the European Commission for the implementation of the RIS project for the internal 1999 - 2000. From 1994 to 1998 and up to this day, thirty (30) European regions have put similar projects into practice. Although the idea for the implementation of the RIS project was conceived by the E.C. in 1991, the political as well as the institutional initiative for this particular implementation started in 1994.
O The initial objective of the project was to give a practical content to Delor’s white Paper on ‘Development, Competition, and Employment’.
O The second objective defined in 1993 was the practical implementation of the Community’s instructions concerning ‘regional cohesion, research and technology (co- ordination of cohesive policies and technological development)’.
O The third objective has to do with the implementation of the E.C’s proposal made by the Regional Policy Commission of the European Parliament. It refers to the potential of continually informing those enterprises which have been founded in less developed regions about issues relevant to technology, production, and administrative revolution.
Based on the twelve (12) principles ruling its content, the Green Paper on innovation of 1995 suggests the implementation of innovation in enterprises, especially the small - scale ones, and encourages the widening of the regional innovation dimension. In May 1998, the twelfth (12th) and sixteenth (16th) Directorates General published a brochure with the topic : ‘Strengthening regional cohesion and competitiveness through technological development, research, and innovation’. This brochure suggests:
O that the public sector should interfere in developing infrastructure of service rendering which will be very strongly related to the business market.
O that the surroundings which the enterprises and the subcontractors of rendering services of high technology and innovation formulate at a local level, should be very seriously considered for infrastructure development.
O that the infrastructure should be based on a rational and effective analysis of all the needs that enterprises have.
O that consent, cooperation, and commitments among participating organizations of either the public or the private sector, are absolutely necessary.
In many regions through Europe, the RIS project has laid the foundations for infrastructures, financed by sources of innovation and technology, e.g. Yorkshire and Humber in England, Extremadura in Spain and so on.
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The RIS pilot projects funded under Article 10 of the ERDF have three key features :
From the functional point of view, a RIS exercise should aim at:
The RIS structure comprises various activities:
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THE EUROPEAN EXPERIENCE
Europe has mainly focused on the increase of production, during the last decade. However , this increase can be reduced to nothing if it is produced as a result of a decaying technology. According to the conclusions drawn by the Green Paper on Innovation: “innovation must be the keystone of all the activities undertaken in the business sector, both at the initial and the last stages of goods production and services”.
Enterprises and the European Authorities must: “direct their efforts towards financing efficiently soft investments which are of great importance for the future of competitiveness, development and employment.”. The RIS exercise has been an on - going learning process for all partners involved, including the Commissions services. Following the first series of the 1997 projects, an independent evaluation of the projects was carried out in order to ascertain to what extent they had an economic and institutional impact and had fulfilled the expectations in terms of their innovative and demonstrative characters. The results were broadly positive and showed that: the projects had been instrumental in increasing public funding for issues concerning technology and innovation in six out of the eight regions concerned.
Although the RIS projects are focused on specific regions, significant emphasis is placed on widening the perspectives of regional stakeholders when developing their strategies and action plans. In this respect, the RIS - RITTS Network, facilitates the exchange of experience and the support on various issues.
In addition to the RIS projects, Article 10 has also funded six multi - regional innovative projects. These “sister” projects are highly complementary to the RIS in as much as they put into practice the concept of an organized transfer of technology or know - how between advanced and less - favoured regions. This allows the testing of new methods of transferring innovation which are better suited to the needs and particularities of firms in less favoured regions - putting the focus on the application of innovation in favour of economic growth rather than the mere institution of innovation. It is evident that the implementation of the RIS project presupposes the existence of effective organizational and administrative structures for the taking of both decisions and actions.
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