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Start date: Aug 31, 2008, End date: Nov 29, 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

RAPIDE is a propsal for a capitalisation network involving 13 partners from 11 Member States. Its aim is to implement good practice relating to the role of the public sector in stimulating innovation in partner regions, in particular helping businesses (primarily SMEs) to bring innovative products and services to market more quickly. The long term objective of the project is to stimulate innovation in partner regions, increase economic growth and therefore to contribute directly to the Lisbon agenda. The partnership arose from a 'Beyond Best Practice' summit that was held in Cornwall, UK in 2007. This event focused on good practice in relation to innovation and identified three critical factors when it comes to successfully stimulating innovation. These factors - managing risk, financing innovation and effective partnerships - have become the three themes that form the primary emphasis of the RAPIDE network.The project will work through 2 main phases. Phase 1 will involve three 'Beyond Best Practice' working summits at which host regions will share experiences in relation to best practice initiatives/projects that have succesfully addressed one or more of the key themes (risk, finance, partnership), overcoming these barriers to bringing innovation to market. Through peer review and discussion, a range of key principles that are important for stimulating innovation will be identified, as well as a range of 'tools' or 'methods.' The second phase of the project will involve regions (working through a range of interactive methods including exchanges and small working forums) to develop action plans for innovation based on evidence from phase 1. These will be applied and implemented through mainstream Competitiveness and Convergence Programmes. The project will also ensure a wider audience for the mainstreaming of good practice and will be influential in relation to regional and EU policy.Through this two phase process, the partnership aims to develop robust, evidence based and workable Action Plans that will be effective in steering mainstream Programme investment towards appropriate activities that will help bring innovation to market more quickly, particularly through assistance to SMEs. The project's key outputs will be 11 interregional events held with 360 participants, 13 examples of best practice made available to regional and local actors, 4 brochures and 9 newsletters produced. The project's results will include the development of 12 action plans, 12 regional/local policies amd instruments improved in the field of innovation/regional economic development and 7 action plans that have been developed in Convergence regions further to the lessons learnt from Competitiveness and Employment regions. The project partnership is keen for the RAPIDE network to be considered for a fast track network. Achievements: RAPIDE a Fast Track network successfully completed all the envisaged tasks and created a sustainable partnership between the participating regions. As expected, the final months of the project were the busiest. The key results of RAPIDE are 17 concrete Action Plans which are currently delivering following 5 innovative RAPIDE Actions: • 6 Innovation Voucher Schemes • 3 Pre-Commercial Procurement projects (PCP) • 4 Business Angel Network Academies • 1 Assessment tool for start-ups • 3 Digital Storytelling to bring innovators to finance/market The leverage effect of the 17 RAPs is approximately € 21.210.460,-. Development of the project: The Polish / Torun partner organised and hosted the launch event in October 2008. It was the first time that all partners together examined and analysed regional case studies from the host region. EC representative from DG INFSO introduced the Pre-Commercial Procurement subjects as part of the Hot topic sessions. The first working summit took place in Cardiff / UK in December 2008. The topic was 'effective partnerships'. The partners presented examples of good practice about multi-level partnerships: inter-governmental, multi agency, academia and businesses. The second working summit was in Patras / Greece in February 2009. The topic was effective finance. The partners presented examples of good practice about business angel networks. The third working summit was in Bath / UK on 22-23 April 2009. The topic was managing risk. The partners presented examples on assessment of start-ups and funds for R&D. All partners actively supported the preparation of working documents for reporting, dissemination and capacity building. Each partner created a roadmap which was the first step on the way to the regional actions. It must be highlighted that the RAPIDE partnership managed to publish three jointly agreed documents. - Lessons learnt - Mid-term policy recommendations – Final policy recommendations Those papers were used to strengthen the impact of the network on future innovation policies at regional, national and European level. During the project launch, the three working summits and the mid-term review, five specific themes were identified of special interest for the RAPIDE network. Those themes where also in the centre of eight RAPIDE events during the Open Days week in Brussels in 2009. RAPIDE invited experts from the private and public sector to discuss the measures to be taken to implement successful regional projects in the above mentioned themes. One of the outputs by the RAPIDE network was the development of a digital storytelling tool for pitching in the public sector which should help to close the communication gap between innovators and investors. In November 2009, all RAPIDE partners finalised the AP background papers defining the topic and timeline for the implementation of the future RAPIDE actions. The final reporting period was the busiest for the project During those months all the RAPs went through an assessment process including an external evaluation, peer review sessions and regional stakeholder meetings. This process resulted in 17 RAPs which are either already implemented or currently in the process of implementation. Furthermore, the project management organised several bilateral working meetings between partners, experts and the commission. A highlight was the RAPIDE in Action conference on 24th March 2010 in Brussels. At this meeting, exceptionally, regional representatives and MAs came together with representatives from the EC and geographical units to discuss a European network project. The final conference was hosted by the region of Saxony-Anhalt and gave the opportunity to all partners to sign their RAPs. In conclusion, we strongly feel that the project RAPIDE really opened the mind of many European stakeholders in bringing the process from innovation to market into the 21st century.

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