Starting from N-S transport axis towards innovative and dynamic Central European regions – the regional specializations
As part of the “Starting from N-S transport axis towards innovative and dynamic Central European regions” Project, managed by the Marshal’s Office of the Westpomeranian Region, the International Visegrad Fund (IVF) took the decision to provide its funds to support a debate organised on 23 April 2015 in Brussels. The meeting presented specialisations of selected regions in Central Europe. There was also a discussion on cooperation opportunities to boost innovation and competitiveness across Central European regions in areas identified as common, and to encourage a more rapid growth by tapping into the diversity of regions.
By collecting and analysing these, CETC partners will be able to determine the objectives for, and steps that need to be taken by, the Central European regions and countries, the Visegrad Group and the CETC-EUWT, to achieve shared benefits.
In order to face global development challenges and to catch up, both states and regions, as public players, need to actively engage in a strategic partnership with businesses, scientific institutions and the social sector. Failure to rise to new structural, modernisation and reformative challenges will lead to stagnation, or developmental drift, and the loss of competitive advantage. This calls for some extra efforts and focusing on the smart specialisations promoted by the European Union.
Smart specialisations are defined as innovative strategies for regional economic transformation, which constitute a key element in EU measures to support regions in their efforts to recover from the recent economic slump. This strategy encourages each region to choose a specific number of priorities, while taking into account their fortes and international specialisations. The idea is not to disperse support and investment measures but rather to concentrate funds on the priorities with the greatest development potential. Since 2014, one of the fundamental conditions required to obtain access to structural funds has been to develop research and innovation strategies based on the concept of smart specialisations.
The CETC-EGTC Ltd. is a cooperation platform operating in Central Europe. Its long track record of successful cooperation, combined with the functional and formal separation of the EGTC, make the Grouping capable of stimulating and coordinating development-oriented measures that go beyond its primary areas of interest, i.e. transport and its corresponding regional economies, which will drive European growth in the near future. These areas are defined as smart specialisations and generally determined on the basis of a methodology developed by the S3 Platform as the institution established by the European Commission to support Member states in building their smart specialisation strategies, e.g. by sharing experiences and knowledge, developing good practices and providing methodological guidance.
At the request of the Westpomeranian Region, an analysis was prepared to identify common specialisations both across the regions located in Central Europe and in some more advanced neighbouring Western European regions.
In addition to identifying these shared characteristics, the study will define the extent of economic variability within and around the CETC. If appropriately used, this can create value-added to growth, not only within the Grouping as a whole, but also across the CETC member regions. When coordinated, the development paths of neighbouring regions, including the neighbouring Western European regions, will generate a number of shared growth areas.
The study is designed to identify scientific and economic domains where coordinated growth could create synergies and boost progress in Central Europe. These recommendations have been developed on the basis of the analysis of the current conditions and expected outcomes following the implementation of the smart specialisation strategy in regions across Sweden, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Hungary, while taking into account their interactions with the neighbouring countries, such as Denmark, Germany, Austria, Italy and Slovenia (for more detailed information on regional specialisations in these neighbouring countries, please refer to the full study available on www.cetc-egtc.eu or visit the project website on www.cetcsmart.wzp.pl)
ANALYSIS FINDINGS – RECOMMENDATIONS
The structure of the recommendations corresponds to the main common specialisation areas identified within the study as a whole. These recommendations also refer to some selected specialisations present in individual countries or regions only.
Key cooperation areas
- Public health
- The metal, machinery and automotive industries
- Electronics, automatics and mechatronics
- Advanced materials and ICT
- Renewable energy sources and sustainable environment
Local cooperation areas
- The food industry, agriculture and fisheries
- The wood and furniture industry
- The chemical industry
- The tourism, culture and creative industries
Given the primary objective behind the establishment of cooperation as part of the Central European Transport Corridor, which is to improve the competitive position of the regions, growth should not only be considered in terms of the north-south direction, based on the potential of its partner regions. Due to the fact that the route neighbours some economically and technologically advanced countries, it is important to consider regional cooperation along the east-west axis, e.g. by involving CETC neighbouring countries as partners. This will strengthen the economy, improve competitiveness, and fast-track the Central European states towards becoming more technologically advanced.