A final report summrises 6 month expoloratory study, which started end of July 2008, on the regional activities related to collection and processing of relevant information needed for better innovation policies – regional innovation observatories. The study was conducted with the aim to provide information and recommendations for potential EU level activity in this field. The study included 3 main elements: a desk research to identify existing activities of regional innovation observatories in Europe, a survey among the IRE member regions about the needs of EU level activity and a specific Working Group to examine the relevance of such initiative.
The study has shown fast growing involvement of European regions’ in the create and running of innovation observatories which aim at, for instance, mapping the local innovation systems, identifying needs of businesses, monitoring market and technology developments, and evaluating the impact of policies. These observatories, not necessarily using this name, are set up to the particular needs pf the specific regions.
Most of the observatories are providing information to regional innovation policy makers in order to support them during the policy making process (e.g. design, monitoring, assessment). However, a number of observatories prepare and offer information to businesses located in their regions or to other target groups outside the region (e.g. potential investors). These regionalised innovation observatories are very often part of a broader institution/organisation that support innovation in the region, such as regional development or innovation agencies, departments/units at regional governments, universities etc. The final report identifies and describes a number of inter-regional initiatives which monitor regional innovation activities.
Among others, the following ones are concisely characterised: Regional Innovation Scoreboard/INNO Policy Trend Chart; ERAWATCH; OECD Territorial Database (TDB); European Cluster Observatory; and the Regional Innovation Policy Impact Assessment and Benchmarking Pilot Action (under the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Development). Both the survey and the discussions in the special Working Group show a great scope for the potential for EU level coordination activities, which may start a wide umbrella of projects of more bottom up or more top down character.
One of a very important conclusion from the debates with the stakegholders was that a potential activity needs to address the necessity of building links between the results of the observatories and their practical use for the improvement of policies and specific programmes/measures. These links should be part of integrated policy making cycles, which include the information produced by the observatories.