For the second day of my visit to Spain I opened a conference on Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation at the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies in Seville. It was the opportunity for me to explain how Cohesion Policy will help trigger an evolution towards a smarter, more sustainable and inclusive development model in the country.
To this end I cannot stress enough how important Smart Specialisation Strategies are. This new innovation policy aims to promote the efficient use of public investment in research, and boost regional innovation by enabling regions to focus on their assets. This includes identifying niche areas of competitive strength and promoting private-public partnership.
In Spain, for the new programming period 2014-2020, two third of the European Regional Development Fund will be allocated to key growth-generating sectors, such as research and innovation, the low-carbon economy, Information and Communication Technologies and the support to SMEs and start-ups.
And I had the occasion to witness how Cohesion Policy already contributes to making the Spanish economy smarter and more innovation-driven. I visited the premises of Gameroil, a company located in Extremadura, Spain’s last “less-developed” region. Thanks to the support of Cohesion’s policy instruments JEREMIE and the European Regional Development Fund, and of course to the great dynamism and determination of its crew, this company is now able to export 60% of its industrial oil production and owns a research laboratory.
I want to see more success stories like this in the coming years.
This is why our investments need to be efficient and strategic, and to that end the use of financial instruments have to be increased. I want to take the perfect example of the SME initiative: Spain volunteered to be a pioneer and gave its SMEs much needed access to finance through joint risk-sharing financial instruments. The country agreed to channel €800 million from its 2007-2013 ERDF envelope into the project. This is excellent news for Spanish SMEs and for Research and Innovation in the country, as it is well known that entrepreneurs, small businesses and start-ups are the main drivers for innovation in Europe.
Cohesion Policy Funds are actively supporting public investment in Spain - playing a key role in the country’s economic recovery. It is vital to use these funds as effectively as possible to exploit their full potential to stimulate growth and jobs.