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Smart strategies to create innovation-based jobs in regions of Europe (SMART EUROPE)
Start date: Dec 31, 2011, End date: Dec 30, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Continued and coordinated efforts by the European Commission, the Member States and EU regions have led to a steady increase in employment levels in many parts of Europe over the years. The recent economic crisis however broke this trend, resulting in significant job loss in all EU countries. While being faced with reductions of funding available to them, EU regions now need to step up their efforts to maintain jobs and boost employment opportunities. Many regions have built their economic development strategies on promoting innovation as a driver of economic growth. However these innovation support schemes are not designed with job-creation as a primary objective. As a result many regions experience that their work to increase businesses capacities for innovation does not automatically generate new employment. For instance because high-tech firms employ people from outside their region, or production of innovated products is outsourced to low wage countries.SMART EUROPE is based on the notion that smart and targeted regional policies and interventions can in fact be designed in order to boost employment directly in these innovation based sectors in a region, thus creating maximum employment growth within the sectors that contribute most to the regional economy.In this project a consortium of 13 partners, representing 11 EU regions, will exchange regional policies and instruments for identifying and supporting the main regional economic actors that can generate innovation based employment opportunities, to boost the creation of jobs in these segments of their regional economy.These partners are Flevoland province (NL, lead partner), Assembly of European Regions (FR), MMU/Centre for Enterprise (UK), Veneto region and Veneto Innovazione (IT), Bologna province (IT), Észak-Alföld regional development agency (HU), Maramures County (RO), ALMI Mid Sweden (SE), Patras Science Park/Western Greece (EL),Sor-Trondelag County (No), Baltic Institute of Finland (FI) and Avila County (ES).The activities of SMART EUROPE include the collection and documenting of effective policy instruments in this field from partners and other actors. During a series of Peer Reviews the partners will identify the driving sectors and actors for innovation based employment in each partner region, tackle the specific challenges related to job-creation in these sectors and present packages of policy measures and instruments tailored to these regional circumstances. The regions will make Action Plans to implement the proposed measures during the project.The results of the project will be documented in a SMART EUROPE Toolkit, available for use by other EU regions. Regional, National and EU-wide dissemination events will be organised, to pass on the good practices and achievements of the project. Achievements: SMART EUROPE's aim is to support regions in boosting employment in innovation based jobs. The 13 participating partners exchange policies and instruments on creating this kind of job opportunities and identify the main sectors for innovative growth. Until now, the partners have identified 3 lines of action to stimulate the growth of innovation-based jobs: by creating innovative hubs (like science parks, incubators, clusters), by supporting the establishment of new innovative companies and by supporting innovation in traditional sectors and non-metropolitan areas. The partners have identified 20 good practices in these fields and collected them in a catalogue, which is the starting point for good practice transfer between the partners. The project works with the peer review methodology. A peer review is a study visits by international experts to a host region, focusing on a certain topic. At the end of the study visits the team provides recommendations to the host region, which the host can use to improve its policies and actions. In the first semester of the project the peer review method was adapted to the topic of innovation based jobs. During a peer review preparatory workshop the partners learned how to use the method and all regions determined their focus for the peer review. Nine partners have discussed this focus with the regional stakeholders during a SMART EUROPE Café. Some partners want to receive recommendations on how to improve their support system for new innovative entrepreneurs, one partner wants to focus on innovation in tourism and work on the integration with the agro-food sector. Another partner wants recommendations on cluster development and the role of the regional government. Communication is an important part of the project, since we want to share our experiences and results with a larger public on regional, national and European level. The website is in the air from March on and the first newsletter was distributed among 1460 people. The first project brochure was printed in 2000 copies, but not yet distributed among the stakeholders. Seven press releases were issued, resulting in 24 appearances in press and media. SMART EUROPE organised one dissemination event in Tampere (Finland) and participated in 7 other events.
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