The European Year of Creativity and Innovation has been launched this Friday (5 December) at a conference in Brussels. The day before, Euractiv published an interview with Education and Culture Commissioner Figel on the year’s significance, particularly in light of the current financial and economic crisis. Quote: As the EU charts its way through the turbulent present into an uncertain future, we must enhance our problem-solving capacity, in every age group and in every place in Europe.

This year will also be a year of the regions, as regional actors have an important role to play in creating the right framework conditions or ‘local ecologies’ for Creativity & Innovation (C&I) to thrive and transform our economies into hubs of innovation. Sadly, that was not mentioned in the interview. Let me therefore offer some thoughts on the connection between C&I and the regions:

The connection has been established lately in Richard Florida’s book on “The Rise of the Creative Class. And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure and Everyday Life” published in the United States in 2002, basically a guidebook to the new knowledge-based economy and a theory on how the growth of the creative economy shapes the development of cities and regions.

In a nutshell, Florida argued back then that regions and cities to truly prosper, must tap and harness the full creative potential of all people, basing their strategies on a comprehensive blend of the 3 Ts of economic development: Technology, Talent, and Tolerance. Long-run success requires a reinvention of regions into the kind of open and diverse places that can attract and retain talent from across the social spectrum – by allowing people to validate their varied identities and to pursue the lifestyles and jobs they choose.

If we accept this hypothesis, Europe has it all, diversity and creative spirit and lots of tolerance (ideally, and in most places). What’s missing is an entrepreneurial culture to translate Europe’s potential into jobs and growth. As concerns creating the right ecosystems for C&I and entrepreneurship, regions have long been identified as the key nodes, where it all comes together and where different actors of the ‘triple helix’ or knowledge triangle have to form action-oriented partnerships to facilitate, support and stimulate the take-up of research results and innovative ideas and transform them into business opportunities. ERRIN reflects this ambition within its membership and networking activities.

In this context clusters can make an important contribution. This will be highlighted and discussed at our forthcoming conference on “European Cluster Policy – What’s in it for the regions”, which has been co-branded with the EYCI initiative, to be held at the Committee of the Regions next Thursday (11 December 2008), 2 pm – 5.30 pm. All interested policy professionals and practitioners are welcome to join this debate.

We have lined up an interesting mix of great speakers:


Antoni Subira, IESCE Business School, former Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Catalonia


The path to sustainable growth and jobs

Jiri Plecitý, Member of Cabinet, Commissioner

World Class Clusters – Drivers for innovation

Nikos Pantalos, European Commission, DG Enterprise,
Support for Innovation

Clusters of innovation – Lessons from OECD regions

Karen Maguire, OECD, Regional Competitiveness and

Trends in Clustering Policy – Helsinki Towards a Living Lab

Eero Holstila, Director of Economic Development, City
of Helsinki

From small to great – What role for SMEs in world-class clusters?

Edit Herczog, Member of the European Parliament,
Member Lisbon Group, Vice-President SME Intergroup

The Czech EU Presidency – Priorities on competitiveness

Petr Dolejší, Member of the Presidency Team,
Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU

For a full programme and registration: ERRIN

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  1. First, congrats for your very informative entries. I’m very interested in EU regional development, so they are very useful. I’ve read Florida’s book while taking a larger class on cultural policy in the US, and I must acknowledge Europe is still lagging behind in contrast to the US when it comes to policies for urban rejuvenation… especially innovative ones, that involve lots of creativity and put creative industries to use.

  2. Dear Corina. Thanks for commenting. I am not so sure. Maybe there is less published about what EU cities and regions do in this respect. Could be an idea for a book…The Commission is planning to publish in 2009 a “Green paper on unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries”. Still have to find out more about it. But I hope it will include lots of examples of what is being done in Europe. Once I find out more about this I will add it as a comment here.


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