Smart specialisation has helped with innovation strategies, but more is needed

Smart specialisation has helped with innovation strategies, but more is needed

Smart specialisation has made a real difference to the way European regions are designing their innovation strategies, creating or reinforcing cooperation at all levels, especially with local industry, but there is room for improvement, to better help regions catch the train of globalisation, according the European Commission.

Challenge 1: Boosting innovation capacity in less-developed and industrial transition regions

Challenge 2: Increasing cooperation in innovation investment across regions

Challenge 3: The need to reform regional innovation systems

Challenge 4: Facilitating synergies between EU policies and instruments

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SME Manifesto: Driving Growth for European Innovators

SME Manifesto: Driving Growth for European Innovators


A statement of policy, aims and practical support for European SMEs who invest in innovation: empowering these economically vital companies so they can help Europe become the world’s leading digital economy.

Ensuring Fair Access to Justice – Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) must be strongly protected and respected in all jurisdictions.

Better Financing and Loan Guarantees For IPR-Intensive Innovators

Innovation Incentives: R&D Tax Credits and Support for Open Technology Standards

Read more about Driving Growth for European Innovators

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European Union and OCTs

European Union and OCTs

Mr. Denis Salord, Head of Unit at the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development in charge of Overseas Countries and Territories opened the BRUZZ dedicated to Turks and Caicos Islands last Thursday 13th of July.

Mr. Salord particularly highlighted the importance of the regional dimension, and as such of the cooperation among OCTs and among OCTs and their neighbouring countries.

Please find below Mr. Salord’s introductory speech at the OCTA Innovation Brussels BRUZZ on Turks and Caicos Islands:

Your Excellency honourable Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to address you today in Brussels for this OCTA Innovation Brussels BRUZZ event focusing on Turks and Caicos.

We are particularly honoured to have with us today Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, Premier of Turks and Caicos, Minister for Trade and Investment of the TCI and chairman of the Overseas Countries and territories Association (OCTA).

As you know, the Association between the 25 OCTs and the EU is of strategic importance for the EU. The European Commission places a particular importance in the work of the OCT Association (OCTA) and is committed to continue working very closely with OCTA to reinforce the partnership between the EU and the OCTs. In this context, as the head of unit responsible for the relations with OCTs in the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), I am particularly pleased with the ongoing collaboration between the European Commission and the chairmanship of OCTA held by honourable Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson.

The Overseas Association Decision of 2013 which governs the OCT-EU relations, reflects a paradigm shift, from a focus on poverty reduction to a reciprocal relation focused on cooperation on mutual interests, and places special emphasis on priorities which are relevant for the OCTs, such as the enhancement of their competitiveness, the strengthening of their resilience, reduction of their vulnerability, and promotion of the cooperation between OCTs and their regional, European and international partners.

In this context, innovation is a central lever to ensure sustainable economic growth in OCTs and the enhancement of their competitiveness. Innovation is at the heart of the EU action in the area of sustainable growth and competitiveness and is seen as a top priority by the EU institutions and the Member States.

In OCTs, the Territorial Strategies for Innovation (TSI) programme also known as “OCTA Innovation” programme is the thematic programme funded by the 10th European Development Fund and covering all OCTs. It embodies the prominence of innovation in the context of the OCT-EU Association.

The overall objective of TSI is to enhance the sustainable development of OCTs through innovative solutions for economic diversification and to improve the regional and global competitiveness of the OCTs. The project provides technical capacity and demand-driven services to the OCT governments in developing their Territorial Strategies for Innovation. To date 9 territorial Strategies for Innovation projects have been initiated in the same number of OCTs.

Today’s OCTA Innovation event is dedicated to the Turks and Caicos. The 11th European Development Fund territorial programme for TCI was signed by Commissioner Mimica and Honourable Premier Cartwright-Robinson at the beginning of 2017 during the 15th OCT-EU Forum alongside four other EDF-OCT territorial programming documents. The programme, amounting for a total of EUR 14.6 million, is focusing on primary and secondary education providing support to TCI ambitious education sector policy. Madame Premier will probably tell us more about this programme.

I am also sure that TCI will be able to share its experience in the area of innovation having focused its 10th EDF multi-annual programme on improving the enabling environment for private sector development as part of the EU general support to the development policy of the OCT.

I look forward to our discussions today, and to strengthening our association going forward. I am sure they will contribute to making our partnership even more effective.


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Capacity-building and knowledge sharing

Capacity-building and knowledge sharing

Overseas Countries and Territories have a lot in common such as insular micro-economies, a rich biodiversity, etc. but also display a number of differences in terms of relative wealth, geographical characteristics, physical isolation, internal political organization, etc. Knowledge acquiring, capacity-building and knowledge sharing are of the paramount relevance for all OCTs.

Capacity-building and knowledge sharing

Human capacities, capacity-building and brain-gain are of the crucial importance. Excellent step in this domain is the most recent strategic initiative of Aruba’s Government and Aruba’s University in establishing Green Faculty. It has been done in partnership with Belgium’s Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. The Belgian institution again takes pole position in Reuters’ second annual ranking of Europe’s Most Innovative Universities. Press release is giving more detailed information.

Three pillars blended-learning

Having in mind that all OCTs are islands, and that some of them, such as French Polynesia have up to one hundred and eighteen islands on their territories, it is very relevant to develop system of education and capacity-building adapted to have the latest worldwide known training for the OCTs.

Particularly we understand that the optimal way for education for OCTs should be three pillars blended-learning. The first pillar should be formally acquired education and experience, the second pillar should be web-based, internet eLearning and the third pillar should be on the job learning-by-doing with direct face-to-face instructions and trainings. That is the way how we are progressing with OCTA Innovation “Innovation Expert Studies”. This way of blended learning should be the education approach implemented in the Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union.

Open innovation, open learning and knowledge sharing

Worldwide open learning and sharing of knowledge and best practice is the way forward promoted by the European Commission and the European Union in general and that is the way how OCTs should acquire worldwide knowledge. Particularly it is important for the OCTs as they are islands geographically away from big knowledge centres.

Thematic cooperation via Centres of Thematic Excellence

Because of the OCTs specificities, OCTs cannot keep and collect all particularly developed knowledge in one single OCT. So OCTs need to work together. This cooperation is not regional cooperation: that must be thematic cooperation. Solution is having Centres of Thematic Excellence. So inside OCTA, different OCTs should become centre of thematic excellence in thematic fields. With each OCT hosting a centre of excellence, a knowledge & cost sharing model can be developed.

The European Union and all stakeholders will do their best in having synergy of Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union with the European Union Outermost regions as well as in developing knowledge and capacities of OCTs by supporting the establishment of Centres of Thematic Excellence within the OCTs.

Herewith attached: Flyer Capacity-building and knowledge sharing

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La compréhension et la reconnaissance de l’innovation par la Nouvelle-Calédonie

La compréhension et la reconnaissance de l’innovation par la Nouvelle-Calédonie

Message de Milan Jezic von Gesseneck, Directeur du projet OCTA Innovation pour la Cérémonie de remise des prix EIC (Entreprise, Innovation, Créativité) en Nouvelle-Calédonie

J’ai l’honneur et le privilège de témoigner de l’engagement, du positionnement, et de la compréhension à propos de l’innovation de la Nouvelle-Calédonie au sein d’OCTA Innovation. La Nouvelle-Calédonie est sans conteste un des leaders dans tous les PTOM dans les capacités scientifiques, technologiques et de recherche. En même temps, il est primordial de reconnaitre que la Nouvelle-Calédonie est un des premiers PTOM à comprendre l’importance de l’innovation pour l’économie, tout particulièrement grâce à la compréhension du gouvernement dirigé par Président Philippe Germain. Ces deux aspects, combinés avec les richesses du pays et avec les richesses provenant de la créativité du peuple, donnent à la Nouvelle-Calédonie une place spéciale.

L’objectif principal d’OCTA Innovation est de soutenir les PTOM, les Directeurs de l’Innovation et les parties prenantes dans le développement des stratégies d’innovation pour leurs îles. Nous nous réjouissons que cette étape ait été couronnée de succès et j’aimerais remercier chaleureusement féliciter l’ensemble des directeurs de l’innovation et des acteurs de l’innovation pour leur dévouement et leur travail assidu, notamment Claude Constans, André Boudart, Pierre Labrosse, et enfin maintenant Jean-Michel Le Saux. J’aimerais utiliser cette opportunité pour remercier particulièrement Jean-Michel Le Saux pour sa participation active dans la Conférence internationale aux Açores, et notamment son appropriation du concept d’innovation systémique, caractérisé par un écosystème bien établi. Nous apprécions également son réel travail de mise en valeur des projets calédoniens lors de la nomination pour les prix EIC (Entreprise Innovation Créativité).

Chaque PTOM a conduit le processus d’élaboration de la stratégie d’innovation en intégrant et en impliquant toutes les parties prenantes, afin de recevoir leurs contributions et de parvenir à un consensus commun. Dans le cas de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, les consultations avec les acteurs de l’innovation ont même impliqué les représentants de 145 organisations, ce qui a donné 190 propositions de stratégie d’innovation ! Là aussi la Nouvelle-Calédonie a pris le lead parmi les autres PTOM. Le moindre domaine de l’innovation a été couvert, et nous sommes fiers de pouvoir annoncer que les stratégies reçues comprennent l’ensemble des aspects de l’innovation, de l’aspect entrepreneurial à l’aspect technologique, du renforcement des capacités à l’efficacité des ressources, de l’agriculture à l’énergie, des start-ups et pépinières d’entreprises. Ce dialogue continu, ainsi que cette mobilisation des acteurs de l’innovation menés par les Directeurs de l’innovation, se poursuivent et demeurent les fondements d’OCTA Innovation.

Les stratégies d’innovation sont passées à la phase de mise en œuvre. La Commission européenne encourage fortement et soutient le maintien de cette dynamique des stratégies d’innovation et la garantie de ces premières étapes. OCT Association a obtenu le soutien financier de l’Union Européenne par un montant d’1.5 million d’euros pour la réalisation des projets pilotes d’OCTA Innovation. La Nouvelle-Calédonie a reçu une subvention de la Commission Européenne pour son projet pilote «Recettes Bénéfiques : vers une autosuffisance alimentaire en milieu durable et insulaire ».

L’innovation est le moteur de la croissance économique durable et nous sommes fiers que les directeurs de l’innovation et que l’ensemble des acteurs de l’innovation des PTOM soient au fait des besoins de leurs îles et soient prêts à faire avancer l’innovation.

Le gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Calédonie est encore un territoire exemplaire parmi les autres PTOM en faisant de l’innovation un levier du développement économique et social, à travers des politiques publiques spécifiques. C’est dans cet objectif qu’il a adopté sa Stratégie territoriale à l’Innovation. Nous apprécions fortement la position du gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, et de son président Philippe Germain qui a déclaré : « La mise en place d’une stratégie pour l’innovation revêt pour le pays une importance toute particulière, car elle s’inscrit dans un ensemble de réformes visant à transformer en profondeur notre modèle économique. Dans un contexte économique international difficile, aggravé par la crise du nickel, nous devons trouver de nouveaux relais de croissance afin de créer de la richesse et des emplois durables et tendre vers une véritable souveraineté économique ».

Nous tenons à féliciter la Nouvelle-Calédonie et surtout le Président Germain pour les quatre objectifs stratégiques. Si l’innovation se définit comme « l’application de solutions améliorées qui répondent à de nouvelles exigences, à des besoins non formulés ou à des besoins existants sur le marché », la Nouvelle-Calédonie a décidé d’adapter cette définition à son contexte spécifique, à travers trois ambitions fondamentales : accroître la compétitivité des entreprises et du pays, favoriser notre insertion régionale et contribuer au développement durable. Quatre grands objectifs ont ainsi été définis : créer un environnement favorable à l’innovation, la soutenir financièrement, diffuser la culture de l’innovation et mettre le facteur humain au cœur de l’innovation. Ils sont déclinés en treize objectifs opérationnels, eux-mêmes intégrés à un plan d’actions dont la mise en œuvre peut relever des différentes institutions (provinces et/ou gouvernement) ou de la société civile. Des indicateurs de résultats et d’impact ont été identifiés pour chaque action.

Nous tenons à adresser nos félicitations à tous : Monsieur Philippe Germain, Président et le Gouvernement qui dynamise l’innovation systémique, Monsieur Jean-Michel Le Saux, Directeur de l’Innovation et le Comité consultatif qui mettent en place l’innovation systémique, toutes les parties prenantes de la vie économique et sociale de la Nouvelle-Calédonie et particulièrement aux gagnants des prix EIC (Entreprise, Innovation, Créativité) de l’Association des Pays et Territoires d’Outre-mer et de la Commission Européenne.

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Janice Panton, opening the International Conference in the Azores

Janice Panton, opening the International Conference in the Azores

Chair of the OCT Association OCTA’s Innovation Steering Committee, Ms. Janice Panton, Head of the Montserrat UK Office opened the OCTA Innovation International Conference in the Azores.

She stressed high importance of innovation for Overseas Countries and Territories and particularly EU-funded initiatives in innovation with Association of Overseas Countries and Territories.

She joined other specialists in the field to look at how innovation is spurring sustainable development in small islands and the scope for future initiatives.

Referring to the Azores, she said « We believe that as small territories as territories that are more isolated, the Azores being in the middle of Europe, you have closer links with the EU than we do. And we believe that we can learn a lot from being here”.

Interview from Ms. Janice Panton in the video.

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Government of the Azores and cooperation with the OCTs

Government of the Azores and cooperation with the OCTs

During the OCTA Innovation International Conference, the Regional Assistant Secretary of the Presidency for External Relations, Mr. Rui Bettencourt expressed the Regional Government’s interest in establishing “new alliances” of cooperation with European overseas territories.

“We are talking about territories that may not only a number of interesting markets for us, but can also open geopolitical alliances in the world,” stressed Rui Bettencourt at the opening of the International Conference of OCTA.

In his speech, Rui Bettencourt stressed that this is “an interesting organisation for the Azores as a new ally within the EU,” as it “enhances the projection of Europe in the world.”

“We are now starting a process of rapprochement to those territories and learn how we can collaborate,” Rui Bettencourt said, stressing that, at this stage,” we need to “exchange ideas” so that we may analyse together what we can do with these territories.

In this regard, the Regional Secretary stressed that, during the works of the two-day conference, “regional companies will show what is to innovate and confront this innovation with what their counterparts do in these territories.”

“These territories are located in various parts of the world, from the Caribbean to the Pacific, but all something in common with us: the fact that they are islands as well as small and fragile territories that are very distant from the European Union; therefore, they share some common concerns with us,” said Rui Bettencourt.

For the Regional Secretary “the interest is twofold,” emphasising that, on the one hand, we want to say “we exist and we have good practices,” seeing that other practices exist and may be shared, and, on the other hand, “we might have a market for some of our products.”

OCTA Innovation International Conference took place at Nonagon. The Nonagon is the first Science and Technology Park of the Azores. It is located in Lagoa, on Sao Miguel Island.

Nonagon’s goal is to position itself as a structural organization in technological dynamism and training of skilled human capital in the field of information systems and communications, monitoring and earth observation, space and sea. It also aims to establish itself as a catalyst in the technological synergies transfer processes of the Azores innovation ecosystem.

Nonagon is an initiative of the Regional Government in partnership with the municipality of Lagoa in order to promote coordination between the public, private and university, leading to the creation of a new development paradigm.

You may watch the video of the OCTA Innovation international conference.

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Learning from EC ACP programmes on Science, Research and Innovation

Learning from EC ACP programmes on Science, Research and Innovation

OCTA Innovation was delighted that the Robert Burmanjer Head of Unit in the Knowledge, Performance and Results Task Force of the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation & Development attended the 2IC. He shared invaluable knowledge of the EC’s research and innovation policies and programmes in African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations who are members of the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement (2000-2020).

Mr Burmanjer emphasised that Research and Innovation are recognised by the European Union in meeting the challenge of nearly all of the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, as they lay the foundations for new approaches, solutions and technologies to identify, clarify and tackle local and global problems.

The proposed European Consensus on Development blueprint for aligning the European Union’s development policy with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) reflects this importance.

Article 86 states that: “the EU and its MS will continue investing in research and development in and for developing countries, including enhancing national innovation systems; to strengthen measurable impacts on progress towards the SDGs through responsible research and innovation approach including education for science.”

Mr Burmanjer described some of the main programmes financed by the European Development Fund over the last 10 years to support Research, Science, Technology and Innovation in ACP countries. They include a project to enhance capacity building in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, demonstrating the added value of a mutually reinforcing capacity building and network development. Under this programme, trainees from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands also received training at Papua New Guinea’s National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). A Material Transfer Agreement, ensured that this transfer of knowledge continues in the long-term.

The ‘Improving Innovation Capacities in the Caribbean’ (INVOCAB) programme is building and strengthening educational science capacities in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), specifically Science Education, as an enabler for poverty reduction, growth and socio-economic development of Caribbean countries. It is improving teaching quality in science subjects at both primary and secondary levels, and stimulating interest and performance of students in selected science subjects.

We very appreciate chance of learning of and working with Mr. Robert Burmanjer, EC DEVCO Head of unit so versatile in different aspects of innovation, capacity building and knowledge sharing. You may watch video .

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2IC – The importance of knowledge sharing

2IC – The importance of knowledge sharing

OCTA Innovation is pleased to announce the participation of Robert Burmanjer at its International Conference in the Azores, 11-12th April. Mr Burmanjer is Head of the Knowledge Management Unit in the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development. He will address the importance of knowledge sharing for developing economies.

The European Commission’s proposed European Consensus stresses that the EU and its Member States should continue investing in research and development. The European consensus is a policy document that seeks to align the European Union’s development policy with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Article 86 notably states: “… the EU and its MS will continue investing in research and development in and for developing countries, including enhancing national innovation systems; to strengthen measurable impacts on progress towards the SDGs through a responsible research and innovation approach including education for science”.



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