Project summary

EU industry renewal, competitiveness and internationalisation through industry-led interrregional coooperation

In the S34Growth project, 10 European regions from 8 countries develop an innovative interregional element to their structural fund policy instruments, supporting the renewal of Europe's industry and competitiveness.

Within Vanguard Inititiave - New Growth through Smart Specialisation, the S34Growth partners have been pioneering a new approach to European industry-led interregional cooperation since late 2013.

Key messages

  • Supporting the renewal of Europe's industry and competitiveness
  • Emphasising the importance of industry-led interregional collaboration
  • New kind of interregional cooperation linking value chains across Europe and improving commercialisation and product & service development


from 1 Apr 2016
to 31 Mar 2020

Research and innovation

What will this project change?

  • S34Growth develops and improves existing regional policy instruments in order to make interregional cooperation easier, more efficient and less bureaucratic.
  • By facilitating industrial innovation-related interregional collaboration, S34Growth supports the renewal of Europe's industry and competitiveness.
  • S34Growth supports interregional co-specialisation approach to smart specialisation which can be easily replicated at any domain and anywhere in Europe.

What policy instruments does the project address?

Industrial restructuring has been very strong in Tampere region since 2008. The GDP per capita has fallen from index value 119 to 107 (EU28=100) and the added value of manufacturing has decreased over 36%. Jobs in manufacturing have dropped 20%. Manufacturing companies have lost their competitiveness and ability to grow. One main factor here has been the collapse of Nokia ecosystem in Tampere region.


The main focus of S3 strategy for Tampere region is the renewal of manufacturing industry. One of the main tasks is to increase the international value-chains of our manufacturing companies. The ERDF OP needs more innovative ways to collaborate companies into regional cooperation and networks. The better use of innovative measures, e.g. Art. 70 of the CPR 1303/2013 or other funding possibilities, is the main objective. The companies in Tampere region must have better skills to overcome different trade barriers (distance, language, culture) in order to regain their competitiveness. Especially we expect to learn more of different ways to improve the capacity of manufacturing companies to entry existing and new markets and to develop new products and services based on market demand.


Which partners are working on this?
  • The Council of Tampere Region
  • The Baltic Institute of Finland

The Basque Country's ERDF Operational Program for the period 2014-2020 foresees to make use of Art. 70 of the CPR 1303/2013 in order to develop strategic partnerships in the areas of smart specialization pertaining to TO1 and TO4.


The Basque Government aims to increase the degree of connectiveness of the innovation actors in our region to those global networks so that they are able to overcome fragmentation and lack of critical mass as well as to facilitate access to research capacity and production of expertise. Article 70 would be used to implement the "outward looking" dimension of our smart specialisation strategy in terms of its orientation towards global value chains, the assessment of priorities vis-à-vis other regions, as well as the consideration of cross regional projects and networks.


Hence, the objective will be to improve the competences and capabilities to efficiently implement this rather innovative policy instrument (art. 70). Effectifve implementation of the Art. 70 woud foster various innovation policy measures with a strong cluster focus as the clusters existing in the Basque Country are an exemplification of our technical and scientifical capabilities which in turn are reflected in our RIS3 strategy. Implementation of Art. 70 will require unprecedental mesures to allow this investment to take part out of the borders of the Basque Country in order to increase the effectiveness of the funds invested and to ensure the impact on competitiveness and jobs.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Basque Government

One of main outputs of the Catalonia 2020 Strategy (ECAT 2020) aligned with the Europe 2020, was to define the Research and S3 in Catalonia (RIS3CAT), which has identified 7 sectors to lead an economic transformation towards 2020 targets: Food, Chemical, Energy and Resources Industries, Industrial Systems, Design, Sustainable Mobility, Health and Life Sciences and Cultural and Experience-based Industries, focusing on 6 cross-cutting enabling technologies: ICT, Nanotechnology, Advanced materials, Photonics, Biotechnology and Advanced manufacturing. To deploy RIS3CAT, the Government has just launched the Industrial Policy 2014-2020, aiming at strengthening the industrial sector under a sectorial approach, In particular, a Programme for the Industrial systems–PISI- has been created targeting more than 5680 companies, 10,433 M€ of billing and 68,750 professionals. On the other hand, the deployment of the Programme for the Chemical, Energy and Resources Industries –PIQER- and Action Plan for Industry Efficient Energy in Catalonia, will also be tackled by S34Growth. At last, two main RIS3CAT RDI instruments are foreseen at the axis 1 of the ERDF OP in Catalonia 2014-2020:1. RIS3CAT Communities: Volunteer PPPs to boost economic transformation plans through RDI in the 7 sectors. It is foreseen to create 1 RIS3CAT Community in the manufacturing sector. 2. Industrial R+D projects: In order to promote the development of KETs. It is foreseen to grant 50 projects in manufacturing sector.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Catalan Agency for Business Competitiveness (ACCIO)- Government of Catalonia

In order to boost industrial productivity, TINA invests in products and services that are scaling up to the industrial market or that are at commercialisation stage. These

products and services contribute to the transformative renewal and strengthening of the Flemish economy. TINA is not a grant or subsidy mechanism but expects a

market level return based on the risk involved. The cofinancing rate decided by an indepedent investment committee varies from 30 to 50%.TINA invests in the

development of transitions/spearhead clusters with strong economic valorisation potential, as they are identified by the Flemish Government and in the Flanders’

framework of Smart Specialisation. To increase competitiveness based on these regional strengths, internationalisation is becoming an important attention point

(especially for a small open economy like Flanders). These spearhead clusters will be positioned in the international arena to become part of interregional value

chains. In the process of interregional cooperation, the development of new value chains will face financing challenges to bring innovations into the market. Leveraging

further investments through combining different financial instruments (on regional, national and European level) is of importance. One of these financing instruments

that could accelerate transitions is TINA. Adapting TINA to these changing environments will be challenging but necessary.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Flemish Government, Department Economy, Science and Innovation (EWI)

Vouchers support the implementation of innovation actions of SMEs. As an example, in 2011 vouchers were distributed for the definition of innovation requirements, financial planning for newcos, participation to EU R&D projects, economic check-up, introduction of highly skilled personnel in the company and patenting.

Vouchers are granted after a multi-phase evaluation process where new vouchers can be obtained after the successful conclusion of previous phases. They cover from 50% to 80% of total costs (funding varied from 2.000€ up to 12.000€ in 2011). Eligible costs include innovation-oriented services that must be provided by regional accredited providers or, in some case, by providers directly selected by the companies.

Regione Lombardia is using the vouchers’ system since 2003 and the instrument is working well from the technical point of view. Up to now, it aimed at supporting generic innovation processes but did not canalized regional resources towards clear focused goals in terms of technologies and applications. At the end of 2013 Regione Lombardia has defined its own Smart Specializations Strategy – RIS3 (last update April 2015) and adopted a Cluster-based governance system. As a result, Regione Lombardia is now shaping a new vouchers’ system aligned to more precise goals consistent with RIS3 and with the R&I Work Programs of the specialisation areas, approved in October 2014. In the project, the first in the area of advanced manufacturing will be carried out.

Which partners are working on this?
  • AFIL - Intelligent Factory Lombardy Cluster

NORTE 2020 is the Operational Programme of the North Region of Portugal, a comprehensive and integrated set of policies, priorities and funding instruments addressing the main challenges and opportunities facing this territory. With a total budget of 3.378 M€, it supports R&D and Innovation (representing 11,9,%), SME’s competitiveness (with 37,4% of the budget) and the low carbon economy area gathers 4,7%, among others. Due to its nature, objectives and relevance, a particular attention will be given in the scope of this project to the “Demonstration Projects” instrument. It aims at supporting the demonstration, in real productive conditions, of results from previously concluded R&D projects, including the setting up of pilot lines. This instrument addresses the growing need to integrate, test and demonstrate results from R&D projects, developed either at regional, national or international level, and to disseminate them to a wider audience, both geographically and sectorial, thus boosting the changes for cross fertilization and further valorization. It can also increase the complementarities between European and National/Regional funding sources. Since this is a new instrument and considering the still significant challenges related with the practical implementation of synergies between European and national /regional policies, programmes and instruments, this is clearly an area where mutual learning can give a strong contribution to a faster and better implementation.

Which partners are working on this?
  • National Innovation Agency

Scotland’s ERDF OP places a great deal of emphasis on accelerating the innovative capacity and access to markets for its priority sectors linked to S3 priorities. The ERDF OP notes the need to support the capacity of SMEs to grow in international markets, through enhancing business collaboration and supply chain development and facilitating clustering opportunities. In particular, the OP notes a strand of activity under ‘deeper innovation’ which would see : ‘the creation of mechanisms to engage in smart specialisation supply chains with collaboration on new innovative products or services between SME suppliers and key players in global supply chains’.This Interreg project would allow for the exploration of this deeper approach to innovation but at an inter-regional level. It is widely recognised that inter-regional collaboration can create both scale and spillover benefits to industry in boosting their innovative and internationalisation capacity and which cannot be achieved easily when regions work in isolation. The project will offer new insights into the benefits of industry-led inter-regional collaboration – and the mechanisms which support this. This, in turn, will create new opportunities to refine and improve Scotland’s ERDF OP in terms of scope and reach. In addition, this project will allow us to explore Article 70 options and so explore risks and opportunities associated with undertaking this new form of investment outside of the region.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Scottish Enterprise

The ERDF programme for Skåne-Blekinge 2014-2020 is the core financial tool for development in the Skåne region comprising 61 million euro in total. One of the important issues it is designed to address is the low level of internationalisation in Skåne, which is clearly shown int the OECD survey on Skåne from 2012. To be able to give the desired effect, the implementation of the programme needs to be improved giving more possibilities to collaborate across the EU. Examples of this is to develop the programme to better be able to use article 70 and having the programme support capacity building to be able to collaborate in cross European initiatives such as the Vanguard initiative.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Region Skåne

OP South Netherlands has been allocated EUR 113,627,056 from ERDF for 2014-2020. With this, the region aims to strengthen its potential and has chosen 2 investment priorities: 1) Strengthening of Research, Technological Development and Innovation, and 2) Support the shift to a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy. With these, the region contributes to EU2020 strategy and to related Dutch targets. International top clusters: High-Tech Systems and Materials, Chemistry and Agriculture & Food are extremely important to Zuid-Nederland. Innovative capacity is the connecting thread running through Life Sciences & Health, Smart Logistics and Biobased Economy and Maintenance. These are regional clusters of national importance with international potential. By strengthening and linking them we will be enhancing our competitiveness.


Within S34GROWTH, we will target Investment Priority 1B1 (strengthening and broadening open innovation system in cross overs between international top clusters and between national and international top clusters, aiming at a larger SME participation) and 1B2 (strengthening the valorization potential of SMEs within national and international top clusters to contribute to the solution of societal challenges) (in total 65 mEUR allocated for these two within OP).


Multinationals and SMEs with strong export positions are established in South Netherlands. It’s in our region’s interest that OP is aligned to a maximum to their – or their representatives’ – needs.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Brainport Development

Throughout 2014-2020 the region of Western-Netherlands (provinces Zuid-Holland, Noord-Holland, Utrecht and Flevolan) receives funds from the ERDF to the amount of €189,847,057. This allocation will be used to boost the region's potential for R&I while at the same time contributing to the development of a resource efficient, low-carbon economy. By focusing on these clear objectives, the region contributes to reaching the overarching EU2020, as well as the Dutch targets set in this regard.


The region recognizes the need for targeted investments and takes into account its socio-economic profile. It also bears in mind the overarching European & national strategies and in particular the Regional Innovation Strategy of Western-Netherlands. The OP will therefore:

-promote business investment in R&I, develop links and synergies between enterprises, research and development centres, knowledge institutions, and foster cross-overs between the regional sectors

-facilitate the use on a larger scale of energy derived from residual heat and stimulate the roll-out of energy saving measures in the building environment.


In order to address societal/ economic challenges, our ambition to create new jobs, stimulate growth and make our economic sector more globally competitive, we need to work together with other regions. Through the project we will be able to deploy new ways to learn from previously developed policy frameworks and existing cooperations.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Province of Zuid-Holland