Research and innovation

Forms of cooperation and examples of projects

Once the potential for cross-border cooperation has been identified, the main challenge for research and innovation is to facilitate the networking of companies and research laboratories. This networking can take the form of a cross-border cluster for a highly integrated economic fabric, but may also consist of a more traditional form of action facilitating relations between businesses and between laboratories. Public policy can focus on the conditions facilitating networking, including the facilitation necessary to overcome the costs or complications experienced by stakeholders working in a cross-border context: moving from mistrust to a better mutual understanding, making it easier to understand the various legal frameworks and overcome the administrative and language barriers, identifying and publicizing common potential in research and innovation, providing information and assistance on the opportunities and the procedure for setting up Interreg V A projects.

Examples of networking projects

  • ERALAN 2: this Interreg IV project in the Basque Country is based on the observation that the same skills are used on both sides of the Franco-Spanish border, by two laboratories for innovation in SMEs. The project brings these two private organizations closer to develop and share the methodology and specific tools of innovation in SMEs. The action here is less developed than in a cluster, but focuses specifically on the process of research and innovation.
  • Øresund Science Region (ØSR): divided into five thematic platforms (biotechnology, agribusiness, information technology, environment, energy and logistics), the organisation ØSR includes universities, businesses ranging from large global companies to small start-ups, public actors. It has a school of management, technology transfer offices and manages networks for science parks, being (among others) funded by its members and by public money. Its purpose is to promote growth in the Øresund cross-border region, thanks to the networking of actors in research and innovation, facilitating technology transfer to companies. It is one of the largest cross-border organizations in Europe to focus on research and innovation, beyond the scale of a specific cluster.
  • The Science Offensive: Unique in Europe, this project in the Upper Rhine supports cross-border research projects of excellence (co-financed by the Länder of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, the Alsace region and the European Union). The seven projects are very varied (life sciences, medicine, energy and environment, history and culture) and were selected for their scientific excellence.

Emblematic cross-border clusters

  • The Franco-Germano-Swiss tri-national cluster “Biovalley”: in the Upper Rhine area, this life sciences cluster focuses on networking universities, hospitals and companies to facilitate therapeutic innovation. It raises the profile of the tri-national territory as a home to specialists in Europe in therapeutic innovation in medical technology, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.
  • The France-Belgium-Luxembourg tri-national cluster “Intermat”: an alliance of three national clusters to form a cross-border cluster on materials science, to generate structuring R&D projects within the entire area covered by the three clusters. The cross-border aspect permits economies of scale in research and innovation, while creating extra added value: a raised profile in international competition through the creation of a cluster with the critical mass necessary to be of global calibre.

Photo copyright: European Community 2005