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ERIK ACTION - Upgrading the innovation capacity of existing firms (ERIK ACTION)
Start date: Jun 30, 2008, End date: Jun 29, 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

ERIK ACTION is a Capitalisation Project born from 4 years of networking experience within the ERIK network. ERIK ACTION builds on a consolidated experience of exchange by moving towards concrete transfer of identified good practices (already available in the ERIK database) into mainstream Structural Funds programmes in regions wishing to improve policies. ERIK ACTION’s overall objective is to improve the effectiveness of regional development policies in the field of innovation and the knowledge economy and, specifically, in upgrading the innovation capacity of existing enterprises. This project aims to create additional value for firms by improving regional innovation support services and infrastructure. The good practices transferred, in the form of regional action plans, should have a quantifiable and measurable impact on the statistics of the participating regions.The project consortium is composed of 11 regions from 10 European countries, all involving (through directparticipation or guaranteed support) ROP Managing Authorities. All partners have identified innovation as a key priority in regional development and have confirmed the importance of the project theme in their current environment. Partners differ in development levels in this field. In some policies on innovation are not yet at an advanced stage. Others have established a comprehensive innovation support system but still look to improve services. ERIK ACTION will go some way to bridging these gaps through intensive cooperation with a view to mutual learning and benefits.ERIK ACTION is divided into 3 Components: Management and Coordination, Dissemination and Communication and Exchange of experiences for good practice transfer into EU Structural Funds mainstream programmes. Regional action plans for the transfer of already identified good practices will be developed and approved by every region accompanied by training sessions on key themes, transfer workshopson specific good practices, study visits to see practical good practice implementation and staff exchange in which a good practice expert will visit the region to which the good practice is being transferred. Activities will be supported by transfer help desks for each good practice. Through dedicated communication and dissemination, partners will ensure the participation of regional delegations including all those actors with a role to play in related activities and transfer of experiences to other EU regions. A reliable and skilled management team will guarantee the achievements of objectives with the aid of innovative tools.The project will produce 11 regional action plans for transfer. It will also produce a mainstreaming guide which will be widely distributed, above all during the final conference. 11 European regions will see their regional policies, instruments and staff capacities being improved as a result of intensive cooperation and concrete transfer actions. Achievements: ERIK ACTION’s overall objective is to improve the effectiveness of regional development policies in the field of innovation and the knowledge economy and, specifically, in upgrading the innovation capacity of existing enterprises. The project runs from July 2008 until June 2010. By the end of the third semester, 6 project meetings had been held to discuss project progress, understand technical and administration requirements, compare information on regional communication activities, and plan next steps. The Steering Committee has also met 4 times to approve key project deliverables and to provide strategic input to the project. ERIK ACTION is now well into an intensive period of exchange among partners with a view to transferring good practices into mainstream programmes. Having chosen good practices of interest within the first months, partners formed transfer groups in order to undertake a series of activities ranging from transfer workshops, to study visits and information exchanges, to bilateral meetings and staff exchanges. Transfer sessions have been held for each good practice (Kozani, October 2008 and Brussels, February 2009). Study visits were held in 4 regions: Flanders (month8) on the good practice Parenthood Projects; Tuscany (month9) on the good practices Fabrica Ethica and PRAI VINCI; Lower Austria (month11) on Innovation Assistant, TIP Coaching and R&D Funding; and Småland och Öarna (month15) on Trainee in Time and Sideum. All visits saw the participation of key regional stakeholders, and a mixture of presentations and site visits. 5 training sessions were held on Innovation Strategies (Brussels, July 2008), Innovation Finance and Innovation Friendly Environment (Kozani, October 2008), Human Resources (St Polten, March 2009) and Triple Helix (Småland och Öarna). Help Desks have been running throughout the period for support and transfer of information. In order to structure transfer, partners have prepared and updated their Regional Action Plans according to a common template. In this way, they have analysed regional programmes, understood where the good practice could be integrated, and studied how to integrate it and to engage the necessary stakeholders. In this process, the lead partner and the component 3 coordinator have provided support and advice on how to ensure successful transfer, and peer review sessions with all partners have been organised. The European Commission Fast Track committee has also provided feedback on draft action plans. In terms of Communication activities, each partner is implementing an stakeholder involvement plan for regional level participation and dissemination. The project website ( was continuously updated with key information and documents. Furthermore, the project was presented at various European Events, including the Brussels Open Days (2008), the Regions for Economic Change Conference (2009), the INTERREG IVC Capitalisation Conference (2009) and various events organised by the European Commission, project partners or other interested entities. ERIK ACTION has also involved 3 Observer regions, who participate in project activities using their own funds: SODERCAN (Cantabrian regional development agency), Regione Molise and Opolskie Centre for Economy Development. In the meantime, partners have provided continued evaluation on project events and progress. The general view is that activities are going well and that exchange has potential to improve regional policies. However, a lot of work is needed to ensure that this experience is translated into real transfer of good practices. Changes at political level and complicated relations between different levels of governance, mean that the signing of the action plans cannot be taken for granted. Partners are working at various levels to resolve these issues. Debate with other project partners has provided insight into potential solutions.
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