Developing an Alpine Space Research, Development and Innovation Area by lowering barriers for cross-regional cooperation

Challenges and opportunities for the Research and Development in the Alpine Space

Alpine Space (AS) Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) were elaborated and adopted to boost innovation and competitiveness, through the transformation of the economic structures by identifying local excellences and combining of existing capacities. Recent experience gained in the Interreg-project S3-4AlpClusters  shows that multi-national governance structures for focused cooperation in S3-implementation are critically missing. There is a persistent funding gap for AS cross-regional research, development and innovation (RDI) projects targeting S3 opportunities of particular relevance and including actors of new value chains, from research to market.

Alpine Space regions must inter-links their local assets and excellent individual capacities to address challenges in future European RDI. Dynamic areas with significant impact are related to megatrends in circular-bioeconomy and health-economy that will tremendously impact the way of our status-quo economy. These fields are of high importance for strategic priorities under EUSALP. To tap into these synergies and unearth opportunities for innovation, cross-regional and cross-sectoral cooperation is imperative.

ARDIA-Net overcomes this challenge by developing an Alpine RDI Area (ARDIA) for tailor-made S3 cooperation across regions by developing a funding framework and projects for addressing megatrends across the AS. It draws on a partnership involved in policy deployment. ARDIA introduces an effective framework for future cross-regional and interdisciplinary RDI projects, enhancing value chains inter-connection, investments, commercialisation, realising ESIF-H2020 synergies and ultimately upscaling AS efforts. The project empowers governance for fostering S3 cooperation for business support organisation, Academia and SME.

Alpine Space regions for an S3-based multilevel transnational governance model

ARDIA-Net project is led by BIOPRO Baden-Wurttemberg and involves 8 partners located in 5 different alpine regions. ARDIA-Net tackles a common challenge to many Alpine Space (AS) regions: the excellent AS innovation hot spots operate in a disconnected way since there is a lack of multilevel transnational governance for a cross-regional S3 approach. S3 across the AS relies on existing capacities in relevant priority areas, such as digitisation, agro-food, health, materials, which represent huge synergy potentials at the cross-regional level. For this reason, actors should cooperate transnationally along value chains to have an impact and implement the macroregional strategies, such as EUSALP.

The challenge is to create a Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) area which, other than the Interreg-program, addresses the regions’ specific interest in synchronizing and funding joint activities across regions. This can lead to a mutual benefit for the alpine regions, through a smart connection of S3. Furthermore, the improvement of the macroregional cooperation can significantly enhance the growth of new cross-sectoral value chains in the fields of circular-bioeconomy and health economy (CBH), which are based on the critical mass of actors and investments.

ARDIA-Net’s partnership is actively involved in regional policy deployment and is composed of actors of new CBH value chains. It allows the efficient synchronisation of RDI calls, the alignment of relevant actors, leading to innovative hands-on projects covering entire new CBH value chains, from research to market.