Regional Programmes of Innovative Actions were ERDF funded programmes which gave EU regions the opportunity to engage in experimental innovation projects. From 2000 to 2006 the European Union funded 181 programmes of Innovative Actions in 144 regions. Regions thus received grants to develop programmes and projects that were risky or needed testing before they could be mainstreamed.
ContextThe Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, Technopolis and GHK as EPEC conducted an ex-post evaluation of the Regional Programmes of Innovative Actions (RPIAs) from 2000 to 2006. The evaluation focused on drawing out policy lessons from the programmes to inform future innovation policies of the European Union.The Regional Programmes of Innovative Actions funding was a continuation of the 1994-1999 Regional Innovation Strategies initiative of the European Commission. The idea was to promote regional innovation by supporting programmes that stimulated co-operation between regional stakeholders across different sectors. Due to the success of these programmes, the EU provided additional support for a new round of Regional Policies of Innovative Actions (RPIAs) in the 2000 to 2006 funding period.The 2000-2006 RPIAs focused on three priority fields:
- regional economies based on knowledge and technological innovation: helping less-favoured regions to raise their technological level;
- the information society at the service of regional development; e-EuropeRegio;
- regional identity and sustainable development: promoting regional cohesion and competitiveness through an integrated approach to economic, environmental, cultural and social activities.
ObjectivesThe aim of the evaluation was to identify the innovative policy mechanisms and to study the factors which enabled or inhibited successful experimentation in the programmes. Based on this, the evaluation aimed to identify policy lessons for future innovati
MethodologyThe evaluation was based on an aggregate analysis of 177 programmes (the 181 programmes minus 4 network programmes), an in-depth analysis of 24 programmes and 10 case studies of individual projects. The 24 programmes were selected on the basis of the following criteria: full geographical coverage, appropriate relative weight of the three strategic themes, regional profile in terms of GDP/capita in PPP differentiating Objective 1 regions, regional innovativeness, size of the region, follow-up as a second programme in the region, differentiation within the country, and eventually availability of substantial documents and relevant stakeholders.Each programme assessment was conducted on the basis of a set template in three sections reflected three aspects of the programmes:
- Governance structures in and around the programmes
- Innovative methods deployed in the programmes and projects
- Impact and value added of the programmes