This section presents INTERREG IVC actions in support of eco-innovation. It presents an overview of each of the seven projects which have been reviewed as part of the eco-innovation capitalisation work and explores their impact on eco-innovation policy and practice within partner regions. It goes on to highlight some of the common and different challenges regions face and provides answers to the core questions raised during the capitalisation work.
1. Analysed projects
1.1 Cleantech-incubation Europe (CIE)
1.1.1 Overview of the project and its main objectives
The CIE project started in 2012 and will run until the end of June 2014.
The project has eleven partners including the Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands, Lead Partner), City of Delft (the Netherlands), I3P - Innovative Companies Incubator of the Politecnico of Torino (Italy), Municipality of Turin (Italy), City of Helsinki, Economic and Planning Centre, Business Development (Finland), Green Net Finland (Finland), Peterborough City Council (UK), Szent Istvan University (Hungary), School of Engineers (France), the French local authority, subdivision of the Essone region (France) and Novagreen (France).
The partner selection was carried out is such a way that each region is represented by the local/regional authority and an organisation that addresses research and innovation issues.
The main objective of CIE is to stimulate and accelerate growth in the cleantech sector by supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs working in this sector. This should be achieved by:- researching policies and procedures designed to encourage cleantech incubation;
- facilitating the exchange of best practice, policy development and experiences with policymakers and cleantech incubator authorities;
- helping authorities to choose suitable policy interventions tailored to their own local and regional situation;
- enabling complementary policies designed to provide a positive business climate.
The project target group is regional and local authorities, cleantech incubators and research institutions dealing with green and sustainable products, services and processes. During the project’s life-cycle, each CIE partner will host a seminar to bring together key players of the target group. At the seminars, local best practice will be shared. They will also include a site visit to a successful business incubator.
The project’s main output is expected to be a handbook entitled ‘Cleantech Incubation: Policy and Practices’, which will showcase the good practices gained from partner countries and from 13 cleantech incubators monitored during the project.
1.1.2 Main eco-innovation issues tackled
The thematic focus of the project is the cleantech sector, which covers green, sustainable products, services and processes, the incubation of cleantech activities and cleantech start-ups.
Eco-innovation issues are addressed in terms of cleantech incubation and cleantech clusters. The project does not have any direct reference to eco-innovation, however its focus on cleantech clusters is very much linked to the field of eco-innovation.
Furthermore, by focusing on incubators, it addressed the very important issue of research into the market translation of eco-innovative R&D ideas.
1.1.3 Innovative good practices/aspects of the project
2012 was the first year for the projects and no final decision on the selection of good practice examples has yet been made. The project partners have started surveying the local scene and have suggested a number of cleantech clusters and incubators that could be considered as good practice examples.
The project is also looking into good practices on cleantech clusters and incubators that exist outside the geographical scope of the project. In particular, focus has been drawn to the Copenhagen cleantech cluster (CCC), which is one of the most successful cleantech clusters, as well as to the Danish cleantech cluster support policy experience, in general (see 2.3. for a detailed description of the good practices).
1.1.4 Ties and potential synergies with other INTERREG IVC projects/European funded projects
CIE team members from Delft University have been exchanging with RECOMMEND project members from Peterborough (UK), driven by mutual interest in the matter of cleantech incubators. CIE has been looking into the experience of Peterborough in developing the EnviroCluster (a network of 350 cleantech businesses) and its ‘Eco-Innovation Centre’ cleantech incubator.
In the topic of ‘cleantech clusters and incubators’, these two projects have a clear potential for synergies and formal cooperation in future.
- The project is in its early stage of implementation, therefore it is crucial that they learn from experiences of cleantech support programmes outside of the project, such as the programme by Carbon Limiting Technologies, Los-Angeles Cleantech Incubator, Eco-World Styria
- When transferring good practices of cleantech incubators support measures, it is helpful to look into the best practices of the leading cleantech clusters and export their methodologies and support instruments. However, it is also important to define the background conditions that could be essential in the viability of clusters, such as structure of industry, market demand, local technological capacities, geographical location, etc.
- When promoting the cleantech clusters, it is important to work closely with the government and policymakers in order to be better informed about the benefits and needs of cleantech clusters and incubators. This will help to tailor the right support policy measures. In particularly, the traditional supply-side measures need to be supplemented by the innovation demand support measures that do not rely on funding but rather create market demand for cleantech products and innovations.
1.2 Forwarding regional environmental sustainable hierarchies (FRESH)
1.2.1 Overview of the project and its main objectives
FRESH project duration is from January 2010 till March 2013.
The partners of the project are Kainuun Etu Oy (Finland, Lead Partner), the Joint Authority of the Kainuu Region (Finland), the Regional Council of Päijät Häme (Finland), the Lappeenranta University of Technology, the Lahti School of Innovation (Finland), the Mid-West Regional Authority (Ireland), the Southwest Regional Authority (Ireland), the University of Limerick (Ireland), the Veneto Region (Italy), the University of Padova (Italy), the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (UK), the Regional Development Agency – the West Region (Romania) and Lubeslkie Voivodeship (Poland).
The overall objective of the FRESH project is to strengthen development based on sustainable value creation at regional level and to contribute to the implementation of the EU’s Environmental Technologies Action Plan.
Project outcomes include the identification of good practices in the partners’ regions and beyond, helping to change the regional development plan in four regions: Kainuu – FI, Lubelskie – PL, Veneto – IT and the West Region – RO and the regional innovation strategy of three regions: Lubelskie – PL, Päijät Häme – FI and the West Region – RO, as well as raising awareness about the construction sector’s potential for innovation and growth, taking account of sustainable construction trends at global level, bridging local construction practices with global performance potential based on EC standards and approaches and strengthening this side of demand-led innovation in the field.1.2.2 Main eco-innovation issues tackled
The FRESH team had a very integrated approach to refining its thematic focus, which is ‘sustainable construction’. It concentrates on improving the conditions for eco-innovation in the regions and has built its good practice collection around 11 policy themes:- How to include sustainable value creation-based development in the regional development objectives and development priorities
- Measurements of sustainable value creation-based development at regional level
- Industry-specific measurements of sustainable value creation (sustainable construction case)
- Eco-innovation strategies and solutions
- Comprehensive eco-innovation assessment tools
- Comprehensive eco-innovation planning tools
- Knowledge competences
- SME involvement
- Educating consumers
- Sustainable innovation sessions
- Funding tools/Sustainable procurement
The FRESH team has chosen to focus on promoting eco-innovation in the construction sector.
The project target group is regional and local authorities, research and construction industry representative institutions.
1.2.3 Innovative good practices/aspects of the project
The project is almost completed and has already resulted in the identification of 53 good practices. Twelve of them have been prioritised as better practices, some of which have been transferred between partners (see Fig. 2 below). It is interesting to see that this project, in comparison to the others analysed, had the largest number and the widest diversity of good practices, which ranged from policy measures, to technologies, governance/planning and information/learning tools and benchmarking instruments.
Many of the identified good practices of interest to partner regions (as well as potentially of interest to other EU regions) and some of them are relatively easily transferable due to the low cost of implementation and minimal learning needed for their uptake. Examples might include the Genuine Progress Indicator, regional planning guidelines or sustainable public procurement regulations.
Figure 5: Prioritised good practices of the FRESH project
1.2.4 Ties and potential synergies with other INTERREG IVC projects/European funded projects
The FRESH team has also been exchanging with the RECOMMEND project team on eco-design, under the theme of sustainable construction. ECOREGIONS has also been exchanging quite well with the FRESH project team. FRESH had cross fertilisation with the SCINET project on sustainable procurement approaches (which is supported by the European Commission’s CIP programme under the Lead Market Initiative; www.sci-network.eu). The team also cooperated with the INTERREG IVC Cradle to Cradle projects (C2C) (www.c2cn.eu).
The specific design and technological solutions proposed by the partners Päijät Häme (MERA) and Veneto (Treviso homes) have a potential for further development under the European Eco-Innovation calls or even the Regions of Knowledge calls.
- FRESH project partners have achieved significant results and accumulated solid knowledge in defining and transferring policy and technical good practices. It is important that they share this knowledge within the Lot 3 (eco-innovation) group of INTERREG IVC projects, as well as with projects from other lots. To this end, the project needs to improve communication about its experience, e.g. via a clearer presentation on the project’s website and publishing it in various European and international best practices repositories (e.g. www.eco-innovation.eu, www.ecopol-project.eu/, etc.)
- The project has identified a large number of interesting good practice examples, most of which have not been transferred yet due to the project’s time constraints.
It is important that the project team continues to keep track of the subsequent transfer of the identified good practices and monitors the impact of the project in the host countries.
1.3 Regions using ECO-ManageMENt for eco-innovation Development (RECOMMEND)
1.3.1 Overview of the project and its main objectives
The RECOMMEND project started in January 2012 and will run until the end of 2014.
The project has nine partners including: the Lower Austrian Regional Government Office, the Department of Environmental and Energy Economics (Austria, project Lead Partner); the Union of Bulgarian Black Sea Local Authorities (Bulgaria); Ekoport (Czech Republic); the Tartu Regional Energy Agency (Estonia); the Province of Ascoli Piceno (Italy); Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship (Poland); the Local Energy Agency Spodnje Podravje (Slovenia); Opportunity Peterborough (United Kingdom) and the UK Centre for Economic and Environmental Development (United Kingdom).
Three of these partners are public authorities responsible for businesses development and the environment. The remaining six have a direct influence on regional policies aimed at promoting eco-efficiency through eco-management.
The main objective of RECOMMEND is to improve regional economic policies with regard to environmental sustainability. More specifically, the project will address the following:- Promoting the development and use of supporting instruments and funding schemes that will appeal to target beneficiaries plus the application of eco-management systems as an instrument for corporate eco-innovation;
- Providing businesses and public authorities with information on co-management systems;
- Creating and interlinking the ‘regional frameworks of eco-management and eco-innovation’;
- Increasing the visibility of the contributions made by regional economies to the solution of ecological challenges at the European level.
The project's target groups are regional public authorities and local businesses/SMEs.
The main outputs of the RECOMMEND project will be:* 8 Regional Implementation Plans (RIP). Each RIP will describe a ready-to-implement policy instrument aimed at fostering eco-management and/or eco-innovation in the respective region. Each RIP will also include the political commitment of the relevant regional and national stakeholders for the implementation of the described policy instrument.
* Policy recommendations for regional authorities on how to support eco-management and eco-innovation in SMEs
1.3.2 Main eco-innovation issues tackled
The projects’ thematic focus is eco-management and eco-innovation. More specifically, the project addresses the dissemination of the best eco-management practices and schemes in SMEs, including eco-awareness, eco-efficient production and eco-design.
Precise recommendations and instruments, such as funding schemes, will be developed during the lifetime of the project. This input will offer regional authorities and public intermediaries a set of proposals and ideas on how they can promote eco-management as a lever for enhanced eco-innovation in their region. Furthermore, they will receive guidance on how they can convince SMEs and their suppliers to implement eco-management systems as an instrument of corporate eco-awareness and eco-efficient production.
1.3.3 Innovative good practices/aspects of the project
The project partners have identified fifteen good practices, nine of which were submitted by partner regions: Lower Austria (AT), Sofia (BG), Central Bohemia (CZ) (x2), Tartu (EI), Ascoli Piceno (IT), Kujawsko-Pomorskie (PL) and the East of England (UK) (x2). Another six were collected from non-partner regions. All good practices focus on eco-innovation support measures. The majority of good practices collected are grant schemes (8), four of which are green innovation voucher schemes. Other good practices are accreditation / certification schemes (3), eco-innovative clusters (2) as well as one voluntary agreement and one open scheme (operational programme).
When the analysis was performed, the project was still in the early stage of implementation. Regions have not yet progressed any further with their plans on adopting the good practices and developing the regional instruments for eco-innovation support. However, early insights into their transferability have been noted in the analysis report (48), counselling caution that a “policy instrument cannot be transferred in its entirety into a different regional context; each good practice has to be broken down into its different constituents or aspects which then can be transferred and adopted to a new regional or local context”. Regions have confirmed this by pointing out that their good practices can be transferred in a relatively easy manner but that attention has to be paid to a careful adaptation to the regional context.
1.3.4 Ties and potential synergies with other INTERREG IVC projects/European funded projects
The RECOMMEND project is in its early stages. The necessity for building wider partnerships with other projects and initiatives still needs to be identified. The project has managed to maintain some ties with the CIE project. In particular, the partners from Delft and Peterborough have a common interest in cleantech incubators and cluster developments, on which they have been exchanging information on an informal basis. However, no formal cooperation or plans have been developed.
The RECOMMEND team has also been informally exchanging with the FRESH project team on eco-design under the sustainable construction theme, the main interest being the good practice examples that could be relevant for the project.
- In this first year of the project, the project team has managed to identify an interesting set of good practice examples supplied both by the partners, as well as by sources from outside the project consortium. It is important that the partners now identify how the partner regions can learn from these practices and how they can adopt them. It would be helpful to look at experiences of the advanced or completed INTERREG IVC projects in the field of eco-innovation, such as FRESH (beyond the eco-design topic), PROSESC and ECREIN+.
- It would be beneficial for the project partners to establish more contacts with other INTERREG IVC projects in other fields (e.g. renewable energy, SME support).
This will help them to draw useful lessons, find synergies and possibilities for long-term cooperation.
1.4 European Clusters and Regions for Eco-Innovation Network Plus (ECREIN+)
1.4.1 Overview of the project and its main objectives
The ECREIN+ project started in January 2010 and ended in early 2013.
The project was led by the Rhône-Alpes Region (FR), in collaboration with 10 additional partners from eight European Union countries, including: the Regional Ministry of Environment of Andalusia (ES), the Ministry of Environment of the State of Baden Wurttemberg (DE), the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Stara Zagora (BL), the R&D General Directorate of the Government of Galicia (ES), the Ile de France Region (FR), the Lombardy Region (IT), the Malopolska Region (PL), the Association of Romanian Municipalities (RO), the Uppsala Regional Council (SE), the Coventry, the Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce (UK) and the Assembly of the European Regions (AER).
The main objective of the project was to create and share knowledge on effective instruments for managing and implementing effective regional policy in support of eco-innovation and eco-businesses. This objective was defined based on the common need to:- Clarify existing aids (i.e. policy initiatives aimed at supporting the development of eco-innovation)
- Improve knowledge of the market to propose more adapted supports
- Improve coherence between policies led by the different services within each region and to adapt these measures to the specific type of eco-innovation concerned
- Set up coordination between the various regional players involved in eco-innovation (players from the public and private sectors, financiers and entrepreneurs)
In light of the issues identified, partners decided to organise their work around three objectives:1. Improve knowledge of the market in order to ascertain which players the regions are working with
2. Study the regional policies and tools aimed at supporting eco-innovation in order to ascertain how regions are working with them
3. Study the assessment of the eco-innovation instruments to ascertain the effectiveness of the instruments used by regions in support of eco-innovation?
The ECREIN+ project is the extension of the ECREINetwork project started in 2006 under the Environmental Technologies Action Plan.
1.4.2 Main eco-innovation issues tackled
One of the specific features of the ECREIN+ project is that it does not focus on any particular issue or type of policy instrument for supporting eco-innovation. Instead, the project covers a wide range of eco-innovation issues including:- Defining target populations for regional policy interventions, measuring markets;
- Green public procurement and other demand-side policies;
- Financing eco-innovation in businesses and particularly SMEs (financial instruments to support eco-innovation) and other supply-side policies;
- The development of eco-parks;
- Measuring the effectiveness of eco-innovation support tools;
- The promotion of 'public-private’ partnerships and multi-level cooperation in the governance of eco-innovation support schemes;
- Eco-innovation support schemes.
This generic approach to eco-innovation however did represent another challenge for the project, leading to the adoption of quite a wide scope and focus to the objectives the project had set out to achieve, as well as to the types of good practices it identified. Future projects should probably seek to define a more limited scope with regards to the types of eco-innovation, instruments and the branch of the industry they plan to address.
1.4.3 Innovative good practices/aspects of the project
The project’s main distinctive feature (compared to other projects analysed) lies in its exclusive focus on the support of eco-innovation policy development. This means that the exchange of knowledge and experiences focused on specific policy instruments implemented by regional authorities, rather than, for example, innovative technical solutions to environmental issues. In this respect, the project directly aimed at sharing knowledge on what local regional authorities can do on their level to improve policy development conditions for eco-innovation in their territories.
The regional eco-innovation platforms set up by project partners also represent an innovative element of the project. These platforms included representatives of both the private and the public sector, able to deal with issues regarding the development of innovation, eco-innovation, eco-businesses' operation and specific difficulties of SMEs. Regional platforms have demonstrated their added value, especially with the regional governance of eco-innovation support.
The project identified a total of 14 good practices. Four of these are of particular interest due to their innovative nature (see 2.3.). There is a wide diversity of policy types capitalised as good practices by the ECREIN+ project. There is a relative balance between the good practices in terms of funding modes, with 5 good practices being financial and the rest being non-financial. However, among the financial instruments, there is a predominance of grants/subsidies/vouchers, while other types of funding schemes such as guarantees, loans, fiscal incentives and venture capital are completely absent. Unsurprisingly, supply-side capitalised good practices far outnumber demand-side good practices. The only two good practices with a demand-side dimension are the Green Public Procurement initiatives implemented by the Lombardia region and the co-owned photovoltaic power plant in Uppsala. The remaining good practices all focus on more upstream phases of innovation, (supply) such as support for R&D (basic, applied, development and demonstration); education, training and mobility, networks and partnerships. In terms of the scope and focus of the good practices, most of these are directly focused on eco-innovation (vs. generic innovation instruments).
1.4.4 Ties and potential synergies with other INTERREG IVC projects/European funded projects
The thematic orientation of the project’s good practices can potentially be relevant for three projects: RECOMMEND, FRESH and ECOREGIONS. However, given that the project is already completed, formal49 activities on cooperation and building synergies are not expected. However, the informal exchange and contacts are likely to continue, which might allow younger projects (e.g. RECOMMEND and ECO-REGIONS) to look into the good practices identified by ECREIN+.
The ECREIN+ project has recently come to an end. The project has produced an insightful good practice guide directly targeted at regional authorities seeking to develop and implement policy initiatives in support of eco-innovation. It would be useful for project partners to disseminate the findings and lessons drawn from the good practice guide. Some partners have already taken it upon themselves to translate a summarised version of the good practice guide, to be used locally. Partners are also encouraged to continue the work started in their eco-innovation platforms, and take the necessary measures to make them sustainable.
1.5.1 Overview of the project and its main objectives
The ECOREGIONS project started in January 2012 and will run until September 2014.
The ECOREGIONS project was launched by members of the RUR@CT network aimed at sharing experiences among rural regions of Europe. It is led by the Picardie Regional Council (Lead Partner, FR) in collaboration with ten partners which include the Picardie Region (FR), the Region of Jamtland (SE), ENEREA Eszak-Alfold Regional Energy Agency Nonprofit Llc. (HU), the District Office Bamberg, Hordaland County Council (NO) , Kainuun Elu (FI), the Regional Council of Limousin (FR), the Cremona Chamber of Commerce (IT), the State Development Corporation of Thuringia (DE), the Malta Intelligent Energy Management Agency (MT) and the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN).
The overarching objective of the ECOREGIONS project is to “improve the effectiveness of local and regional development policies in the areas of eco-innovation and more specifically green technologies”50. This is achieved through the exchange, sharing and transfer of policy experience and good practices in the field, with a view to contributing to the economic modernisation and increased competitiveness of the European territories concerned. The project places a particular emphasis on the support directed to SMEs.
1.5.2 Main eco-innovation issues tackled
As is the case with the ECREIN+ project (cf. 3.1.4), the ECOREGIONS project was not designed to focus on any particular issue or dimension of eco-innovation. Instead, it develops a rather generic approach to eco-innovation. However, the analysis of the selected good practices does reveal a particular emphasis placed on increasing the capacities of SMEs to adopt sustainable practices (e.g. eco-management and implementing energy efficiency measures) and on the uptake and development of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency solutions (e.g. biogas plants and low energy housing). The selected good practices to be transferred among partners can be divided into two fields: eco-innovation support instruments (e.g. cluster-building) and green technologies (technical solutions to specific environmental issues, e.g. biogas plants).
The analysis of the good practice sheets selected by the project illustrates the diversity of the eco-innovation issues addressed:- Capacity building of SMEs in the fields of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency
- Production of renewable energy using biomass
- Strategy building in the field of climate action
- Development of cleantech clusters
- Eco-management in SMEs
- Improving market access for new environmental technologies
1.5.3 Innovative good practices/aspects of the project
Before the project was officially launched, the ECOREGIONS partners identified an initial set of 15 good practices that could be potentially exchanged among them. Identifying the good practices to transfer was actually carried out as part of the design of the project itself. As a result, the project started a step ahead of other projects in the field, thereby saving the time and effort the others had to put into identifying and capitalising on good practices. The project already possesses completed good practice sheets for each of these good practices, making it easier for partners to identify the good practices they are interested in importing.
Currently, out of the 15 identified good practices, nine of them may potentially be transferred among partners. No formal transfer of good practices has taken place yet, given the early stage of project implementation. However, according to the Lead Partner, project partners have expressed particular interest in the Energy Efficiency Network and the Portaferm small manure biogas plant in the Thuringia region in Germany and the Cremona Bio-energy factory (Italy).
The Bio-energy Factory promotes and optimises the use of available biomasses, thereby increasing the production of green energy without being detrimental to the existing productive resources in favour of green technologies. The operation is structured around three interconnected layers: research, services and observatory. From a social perspective, the inclusion of the civil society in the development pathway of the Bio-energy Factory represents an important achievement towards the creation of a situation that is conducive to the interaction between local authorities, research centres, SMEs and local communities.
The Energy Efficiency Network Thuringia aims at exchanging good practices to gain and spread knowledge. Its overarching goal is to find solutions for improving the energy efficiency of production processes. The network supports businesses in their efforts to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Within a pilot phase, 15 businesses monitor their energy consumption and receive such support. Since the network activities include best practice exchange, various methods for improvement are being discussed and presented in a common catalogue of measures. Currently, the networks’ businesses are implementing the measures they selected in order to reduce their energy consumption, leading the way to cuts in expenditure and CO2 emissions.
1.5.4 Ties and potential synergies with other INTERREG IVC projects/European funded projects
The focus and approach to eco-innovation developed by the Eco-Regions project is similar to that adopted by ECREIN+ and FRESH. In this respect, there could be room for an exchange of knowledge and best practices among the three projects. The Eco-Regions project could draw interesting lessons from the best practice guide developed by the ECREIN+ project.
In addition, given the breadth of the project’s focus on renewable energies and energy efficiency, it might be worth exploring synergies with and drawing inspiration from the work carried out in the Covenant of Mayors initiative. The Covenant’s website includes a significant database of benchmarks of excellence illustrating energy efficiency and renewable energy good practice actions adopted at the local level.
- The Eco-Regions project has made significant headway in defining and capitalising the good practices to be shared among project partners. The project must now ensure it capitalises on the efficiency of its methodology and go as far as possible in the actual exchange of good practices and delivery of implementation plans.
- It would be interesting for the project to look at good practices capitalised on by other INTERREG IVC projects in the field of eco-innovation which have already come to an end such as the PROSESC project and the ECREIN+ project. These projects might have good practices of interest for Eco-Regions project partners, or may contain aspects that may enrich their current work.
1.6 Developing Sustainable Regions through Responsible SMEs (DESUR)
1.6.1 Overview of the project and its main objectives
The DESUR project, as a project from the fourth INTERREG IVC call for projects, has only recently started (July 2012) and aims at ‘helping businesses to grow in a more sustainable and innovative way by improving regional policies to promote responsible innovation in SMEs. It will run until July 2014. It focuses on policies to support Corporate Social Responsibility in SMEs. SMEs often have neither the resources nor the awareness necessary to adopt sustainable practices, namely: respect for the natural environment, removal of barriers and inequalities, lifelong learning, increased productivity, efficient resource usage, better quality of life for employees, etc. Since most companies are SMEs, the inactivity of SMEs in adopting such practices is a barrier to the sustainable development in a region.
The regions that make up the DESUR project are coordinated by FUNDECYT, the science and technology support agency in the region of Extremadura (ES). Other participants are the South West Regional Authority (IE); the Region of Western Macedonia (EL); the Province of Bologna (Italy); the Kaunas University of Technology (LT); the Pannon Business Network association (HU) and Labour Fund Zasavje (SI). The project aims at developing policies to make it easier for SMEs to adopt sustainable practices in their day-to-day business and foster eco-innovation in SMEs to increase competitiveness, create quality employment and be more respectful to the environment.
The main objective of the DESUR project is to share knowledge across regions to improve policies, instruments and methodologies aimed at promoting responsible innovation in SMEs with the purpose of increasing sustainability in the participating regions.
The other objectives are to:- Exchange knowledge on best practices and experiences between the partners to replicate the identified models that have been successful in other regions.
- Help bridge the existing gap in the level of development of sustainability policies for SMEs between the more experienced countries (sources of knowledge) and the less advanced (recipients of knowledge).
- Train staff members to promote business eco-innovation, particularly aimed at SMEs, to be active agents in the future of the region.
- Capitalise on the knowledge available in public policies for environmental and human sustainability in SMEs by integrating it in a single concept of SME eco-innovation. (This concept is defined as any innovation resulting in the prevention or the reduction of environmental impacts, impacts on the natural environment as well as social and economic impacts.)
- Identify, classify and understand the main needs of SMEs with respect to sustainability, allowing for improvement in the policies aimed at them.
- Learn to use effective and efficient public resources to promote sustainability.
- Disseminate the results so as to enable learning beyond the duration of the project and beyond the geographical scope of the regions involved.
- Contribute to achieving the European and national targets in the future design of policies for sustainable development of SMEs in the regions involved.
- Establish links between partners that foster collaboration and knowledge sharing (networking) for the duration of the project and beyond.
The main focus is on the bilateral exchange between partners during study visits and staff exchanges.
1.6.2 Main eco-innovation issues tackled
The regions participating in the DESUR project (all except Lithuania) are suffering heavily from the economic crisis, and their economies all largely consist of SMEs. The SMEs of the DESUR partner regions are faced with the important challenge of boosting competitiveness through productivity growth, in which innovation, new skills and sustainability are important components. In this respect, CSR is a definite and decisive way to integrate these factors into the companies' strategies and policies.
Many of the micro and small firms involved in the DESUR project did not think that the term CSR was applicable to their business because they were small and assumed that CSR was only applicable to much bigger firms that better fit the ‘corporate’ aspect of CSR. They often only see it as an additional cost and not as an opportunity. “What emerged, in particular, picking over DESUR partners' reports, is an insufficient development of an entrepreneurial culture of Corporate Social Responsibility and, above all, SMEs hardly understand the competitive surplus that might result from activating a sustainable corporate strategy and an effective internal and external stakeholders' involvement (51)”.
In the project, the focus is not directly on eco-innovation but on Corporate Social Responsibility within SMEs, which is very broad, ranging from community involvement (donations, sponsorships, corporate voluntary work, etc.), workers health & safety and codes of conduct to work safety certification, ethical codes, etc.
CSR however may be a catalyst to eco-innovation projects within these SMEs. The SMEs themselves see CSR in the area of eco-innovation as a tool for the reduction of energy consumption and waste.
1.6.3 Innovative good practices/aspects of the project
The first results include an analysis of European regions that promote social responsibility in small and medium-sized businesses and a model developed to promote responsible innovations. The project only started in 2012, so no good practices have yet been identified at policy level. Some good practices in the area of environmental management at company level have however been identified. An important feature of all these good practices is the commitment of the companies towards protecting the environment. Furthermore it has become clear that in order to involve SMEs, the concept of CSR must not be made more complex than it already appears.
1.6.4 Ties and potential synergies with other INTERREG IVC projects/European funded projects
With its generic focus on policies supporting the introduction of a CSR ‘attitude’, which may be adopted by all SMEs, the project is relevant for many other INTERREG IVC projects focusing on SMEs. Within the specific cluster of projects focusing on eco-innovation, these are RECOMMEND (eco-management and eco-innovation in businesses), ECOREGIONS (eco-innovation in SMEs), ECREIN+ (eco-businesses), FRESH (sustainable value creation in the building sector) and to some extent PASE52 (focused on social businesses).
At the time of the analysis, the focus of the initial exchange of good practices was on CSR practices companies/SMEs. No policy good practices have yet been identified. The recommendation would be to focus more on the policies supporting the development and wider adoption of CSR practices and less on individual company level good practices.
1.7 Producer Services for European Sustainability and Competitiveness (PROSESC)
1.7.1 Overview of the project and its main objectives
In the PROSESC project, a project from the second INTERREG IVC call, therefore already finished, seven European regions with strong automotive sectors cooperated to exchange information on support strategies and policies regarding environmental sustainability and the competitiveness of road transport.
The project leader was the Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation (DE). Partners were Pannon Novum West-transdanubian Regional Innovation Non-profit Ltd. (HU); the Hungarian Vehicle Engineering Cluster - HVEC (HU, Associate regional partner); the province of Turin (IT; the Regional Development Agency for the West Region (RO); the Government Office of Climate Change (SI); the Galician innovation agency of the Ministry of Economy and Industry (ES); the Galician Automotive Cluster CEAGA (ES, associate regional partner); Norfolk County Council, UK) and the University of Hertfordshire (UK).
The focus of the project is on the knowledge-intensive producer services sector and, more specifically, the type of services that are integral to the development and production of means of sustainable road transport (from two-wheelers to e-vehicles and fuel-cell buses). The services targeted by PROSESC cover a broad span of areas: product-design, R&D, engineering and IT-services, and even specialised logistics. The businesses concerned (often SMEs) deliver a complex ecosystem of enabling services that accelerate the absorption rate of innovative technologies by the automotive sector.
The conclusion of the project is that sustainability and electric transport offer opportunities for renewal of the still very important car manufacturing industry in Europe. Increased technology transfer between research organisations, SMEs and large manufacturers is important for grasping this opportunity. At present, however, the innovation process is not very open.
1.7.2 Main eco-innovation issues tackled
The issues with respect to eco-innovation include the electrification of personal vehicles powered by batteries or by hydrogen and better use of info-mobility technologies (e.g. technological assistance to driving and traffic management) so as to increase transport energy efficiency. New technologies are a means to decrease the environmental pressure of personal mobility as well as an opportunity for the revival of the European car manufacturing industry.
1.7.3 Innovative good practices/aspects of the project
The good innovation policy practices identified in the project relate mainly to the development and introduction of electric vehicles and to the supporting of SMEs with their innovation(s).
The three good practices related to electric vehicles focus on the implementation of infrastructure networks. To support this, regional authorities are promoting innovation by means of ensuring framework conditions for successful implementation. MOBEGA, an electric mobility plan, brings together both public and private resources to encourage the use of electric vehicles in Galicia. Rather than searching for an elusive business model, the project is fostering regional R&D. Mobigrid is a very practical project, building an EV (electric vehicle) corridor from Vigo to Porto, demonstrating that EVs can be used on such major routes. Evalu8 is building a special EV network with 600 charging points across the East of England, raising the profile of EV use and facilitating opportunities for innovation. The EV focus is bringing SMEs and larger players together.
Although the following good practices in SME support measures relate to the car manufacturing sector, they may be more easily transferable to other sectors:* In the Automotive Benchmarking Cluster in Hungary, company performance data is being collected and (anonymously) disseminated among participants so they can benchmark their own performance against that of their colleagues. The greater the willingness of companies to input data, the greater the benefit they will receive by having access to the anonymous benchmark data of the cluster. The role of the government is mainly to initiate and help to build trust. The independence of the cluster manager and the additional external expertise, brought in to analyse the result, further strengthens the cluster.
* The TecNet platforms in Germany provide a straightforward methodology for progressing an open innovation agenda. Companies in the network are encouraged to submit proposals to solve a problem posed in general terms by a potential customer (here possibly a vehicle manufacturer). The platform organisation provides a secure holding area to manage the release of information once intellectual property agreements are in place. This engenders a vital sense of trust, which allows the network partners to collaborate: it gives SMEs a potential customer and large companies access to SMEs, which they otherwise would not be able to cooperate with.
* The design of the Hethel Engineering Centre in Norfolk, England, is intended to encourage start-up companies to engage with each other. The Pilot-Innovation-Projects build on this by bringing together companies from different disciplines. By introducing a number of unlikely partners, the seeds of innovation are found in these new connections.
More traditional good practices that demonstrate the role played by regional authorities and Chambers of Commerce to support and encourage SMEs are an ERDF co-financed R&D programme for SMEs (Piedmont, Italy) and an organisation for joint international marketing of a regional cluster (Turin, Italy).
1.7.4 Ties and potential synergies with other INTERREG IVC projects/European funded projects
The PROSESC project is based on earlier cooperation projects: the Network of Automotive Regions (co-financed by INTERREG IIIC) and BeLCAR (financed by Europe INNOVA Initiative), which addressed the clustering phenomenon in the automotive industry from different angles.
The project in itself with its strong focus on the automotive sector does not seem to have a generic synergy with other INTERREG IVC projects. Furthermore, as stated above, the lessons from the PROSESC project may have a broad use outside the project. The specific good practices related to electric vehicles show the importance for (regional) governments to create framework conditions for (radical) innovations as well as the opportunities for regions to create the right framework conditions in (niche) markets. The SME good practices may be more directly transferred outside the automotive sector (but are not specific for eco-innovation).
The PROSEC project has now ended and published its results in reports, a conference and brochures. In order to create a maximum impact, it would be useful to keep on communicating the lessons of the project. One important way to achieve this is to (continue to) update the contact-info on the PROSESC website so that the people involved can be directly contacted by any parties interested.
2. Aggregated thematic analysis
2.1 Promoting eco-innovation from the regional front: are regions legitimate stakeholders?
As has been discussed above, there are two main drivers for the development of public policy in support of eco-innovation:* Reducing the environmental impact of our society
* Exploiting potential economic opportunity
These drivers are valid at all government levels: EU level (Horizon 2020, see above), local, regional as well as national level (sustainability and economic growth are major issues in all EU countries. The specific role regions can play in this arena depends on national legislation and traditions, regional (economic) strengths and weaknesses, added value of policy at regional level and the leadership that is available in the region. While the legislative powers at regional level are often more limited than at national level, the smaller scale of regions allows for a more direct and intensive interaction with society, offering a faster and more tailored implementation of policy initiatives. Regions can also capitalise on the uniqueness of their innovation ecosystems and so realise comparative advantages over other regions. Being generally larger and therefore possessing more specialist knowledge, regional public organisations may be more suitable to support eco-innovation than the local level.
The EU Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020 confirms the importance for regions to reach Horizon 2020 goals and has established minimum allocations for the spending of ERDF resources on energy, innovation and SME support (see 2.2.5). In doing so, the EU has confirmed the role of regions to foster an eco-innovation that responds to the challenges of sustainable energy, climate change and the use of natural resources.
Depending on their competences and local institutional frameworks, regions can play different roles in the promotion of eco-innovation: (53),- Regions can play a role as a consumer (e.g. green public procurement, implementation of energy saving activities for their own buildings);
- Regions may be local producers and suppliers of services & utilities (as owners of utility companies e.g. for heating and energy solutions)
- Regions can play a role as regulators, setting standards and local laws
- Regions can play a role as a motivator and facilitator, inspiring and supporting the adoption of eco-innovative practices
The project partners from the analysed group of INTERREG IVC eco-innovation projects formulate the role of the regional authorities as follows (54):* They should show a committed leadership in promoting sustainability in the region
* They should develop a long-term development strategy incorporating sustainability goals and targets that give a basis for regional actions, measures and policies aimed at promoting eco-innovation in regional industries (manufacturing, services), public sector and other areas (greening regional development plans)
* Based on the strategy, they should design and promote (economically and environmentally sustainable) eco-innovation support measures and incentives for SMEs, NGOs and consumers
* They should also act responsibly. For example, the regional authorities can set an example by applying green principles in the regional public administration (e.g. applying Green Public Procurement)
* They should provide political support to good practice transfer, innovation and implementation
* They should promote information campaigns to raise green awareness of all stakeholders
* They should link all stakeholders together with knowledge institutes and industries. They should support skills development and find skills/collaborators across borders.
Moreover, according to the representatives of the projects analysed, different groups of regional stakeholders can play various roles in the further uptake of eco-innovation. Figure 6 below shows the possible roles that the various players can adopt in the promotion of eco-innovation(s).
Figure 6: Role of regional players in the promotion of eco-innovation (55)
Player/Stakeholder Roles Universities and knowledge institutes * Support development of entrepreneurship skills at the universities, and facilitate spinoffs that are especially focused on sustainability related (env. management, eco-innovation) topics
* Support/fund/facilitate R&D programmes focused on eco-innovation
* Development and opening of related study courses (e.g. cleantech engineering, sustainability management, etc)
* Provision of PhD grants that will support eco-innovation related topics
Companies/SME * Support clusters creation and incubators focused on cleantech and sustainable innovation areas
* Create incentives for SMEs and companies to start introducing eco-innovation and environmental management measures (e.g. tax incentives, financial incentives)
* Promote incentives through competitions and awards for the most eco-innovative SMEs
* Promote / support the internationalisation of SMEs that will help with their export effort, knowledge diffusion, and learning. This will also help regions to obtain international recognition
Consumers * Provision of information, education and awareness raising via various campaigns, advertisement, and other channels.
* Particular attention should be on ecological education of children in school programmes.
* Launching specific incentive programmes and instruments aimed at making consumers behaviours more sustainable (e.g. energy saving, use public transport, recycling, water saving)
NGOs and non-for profit organisations * They should be involved more actively in information and education campaigns.
* They should cooperate with regional authorities in developing sustainability strategies
* Citizen or user or consumer organisations focusing on green/ sustainable topics/ services should be promoted (e.g. an association of households with PV roofs, or of wind installation owners)
The existence of the necessary institutional conditions for effective eco-innovation policy support to be implemented at the regional level strongly depends on organisational patterns, which may differ from country to country. Experience from the INTERREG IVC eco-innovation projects show that regional strategies must take into account national and supranational policies in order to avoid conflicting strategies as well as to benefit from opportunities for broader implementation (outside the region) of eco-innovations. A good example comes from Germany by promoting hydrogen car charging stations. In this case, the first initiatives for promoting hydrogen cars were predominantly localised (Berlin, Stuttgart) with a limited number of cars and charging stations. For further implementation, up-scaling and setting-up outside the region is necessary (hydrogen car drivers also want to drive their car outside of their own region). A national strategy is therefore necessary for it to be a real success and ensure expansion to the national level. In Germany, this is provided by the Clean Energy partnership, where energy and technology companies, car manufacturers, transportation companies and the federal states (Länder) cooperate.
2.2 Eco-innovation: a crossroads of policy intervention
- 2.2.1 Different approaches, one subject
Although eco-innovation is present in all projects, the approaches to eco-innovation vary significantly among and within them. As a result, the good practices being looked into by projects also vary significantly. The following figure provides an overview of the main types of focus developed by each of the projects analysed. The figure does not seek to provide the basis for categorisation of the projects but instead aims to illustrate the diversity of approaches developed by them. It must be kept in mind that each of the points included are not mutually exclusive and projects have often included several of these dimensions in their design.* Technologies: Some projects are explicitly aimed at supporting the development and uptake of environmental technologies. The PROSESC project for example is aimed at supporting the development of electric-vehicle technologies, while ECOREGIONS and FRESH have identified several good practices based on specific innovative technologies (e.g. heat pump, low impact building, biogas production, non-industrial waste biosizer, etc).
* Sectors: Although eco-innovation is not limited to any particular economic sector (eco-innovation is a process that can take place at any point in the value chain and any sector in the economy), certain projects have decided to focus on particular sectors. Again, the PROCESC project focuses on the road transport sector, while the FRESH project has chosen to focus on the construction sector by introducing eco-design principles and CIE identified cleantech as a broader sectoral area including green, sustainable products, services, processes and technologies.
* Policies: While all projects seek to influence the policy framework by introducing better policy measures or shaping regional strategies, some of them have a stronger focus on strengthening policies and the roles of regional policymakers in support of eco-innovation (e.g. ECREIN+, FRESH). Other projects focus on policies in selected areas, like supporting cleantech incubation in CIE, eco-management and eco-design in RECOMMEND, cluster policies in PROSESC and corporate social responsibility in SMEs in DESUR.
* Capacity building: Some projects have been designed to facilitate the development of processes with regard to institutional capacity building at the regional level. The PROSESC project for example seeks to promote the “transfer of academic and expert know-how on cluster support to regional policymakers”, while the ECREIN+ project seeks to strengthen the capacities of regional policymakers to effectively design, implement and evaluate eco-innovation support policy instruments. RECOMMEND focuses on capacity building in eco-management and eco-design expertise in companies in its partner regions. The CIE project is explicitly designed to facilitate the incubation of young eco-innovating SMEs, which otherwise face difficulty in starting the business and entering the market.
* Target groups: Some projects explicitly target certain populations/groups. DESUR and ECOREGIONS place a strong emphasis on supporting the uptake of eco-innovation among SMEs. The CIE project targets cleantech incubators and start-up SMEs nurtured within these incubators.
Figure 7: Approaches to eco-innovation identified in the projects
- 2.2.2 Eco-innovation, eco-technologies, eco-industries: overlapping but distinct
The diversity of approaches to eco-innovation that can be found within the selected INTERREG IVC projects also stems from the fact that the notion itself is rather broad and cross-cutting. Eco-innovation is also a young concept, which means that the use of the term in the policy-making sphere is in some cases rather vague. Projects often use terms like eco-innovation, eco-businesses, eco-technologies and green growth indiscriminately, which in some cases leads to a lack of clear-cut conceptual frameworks and scope. In some cases, this has led to misunderstandings regarding the objectives pursued by the project (e.g. ECREIN+).
Consequently, it is of vital importance that projects provide clear conceptual frameworks. The following paragraphs provide an overview of a number of definitions of concepts tied to eco-innovation.* The OECD and Eurostat have narrowed the interpretation of eco-industries, defining them as “those [identifiable] sectors within which the main – or a substantial part of – activities are undertaken with the primary purpose of the production of goods and services to measure, prevent, limit, minimise or correct environmental damage to water, air and soil, as well as problems related to waste, noise and eco-systems”. Based on this definition, a distinction can also be made between ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ or ‘connected industries’, based on the relevance of the industry’s activity to the previously mentioned purpose. For example ‘core’ industries include sectors such as wastewater treatment and renewable energy sources. These sectors are generally classified under two broad groups: pollution management and resource management. Connected industries, on the other hand, include a larger set of sectors, such as ICT, chemicals or automotive.
* According to Cleantech Group, cleantechs are “new technologies and related business models that offer competitive returns for investors and customers while providing solutions to global challenges”. Cleantech industry segments include energy efficiency, energy storage, wind, bio-fuels and bio-materials, water, transportation, solar systems, waste, materials, smart grids and agriculture. Due to the difficulties in measuring eco-innovative-related market trends, calculating the volumes of capital that go into financing eco-innovation is also a highly complex task. Nevertheless, using existing evidence from specific industries and/or sectors of the financing market (e.g. equity market); it is possible to shed light on some of the key issues regarding eco-innovation financing. Indicators on the cleantech industry are often used to measure the eco-industry. The term ‘cleantech companies’ is generally used to describe companies that produce technologies that are environmentally friendly. The emphasis is often on new or established technologies. Cleantech and eco-innovation are thus closely related. However, the focus of eco-innovation is broader than only technology and also encompasses process innovation, for example.
* Eco-innovation, on the other hand, is not limited to the development of new technologies, nor to a particular economic or industrial sector. According to the EU Eco-innovation Observatory, “eco-innovation is the introduction of any new or significantly improved product (good or service), process, organisational change or marketing solution that reduces the use of natural resources (including materials, energy, water and land) and decreases the release of harmful substances across the whole life-cycle”.
The following table provides a brief analysis of the different approaches/focuses developed by the projects.
Figure 8: Approaches and focuses of projects
Project acronym Focus FRESH FRESH defines eco-innovation as better, greener, and cheaper products. The criterion used for the good practice selection is that they contribute to green competitiveness & green growth.
The project partner regions prioritised the construction sector in the partner regions as the focus area because this sector constitutes an important part of the partners’ regional economies and combines export potential with local demand and untapped, sustainability and innovation potential.
The good practices address issues of energy, waste, resource productivity, user satisfaction and represent both, supply side measures (planning & assessment tools) and demand-led measures (standards, sustainable procurement and consumers), as well as technical innovation showcases.
RECOMMEND RECOMMEND focuses on ‘eco-management and eco-innovation’ with no thematic or sectoral/industrial focus. In identifying good practice examples, the project focuses on certain support activities including: funding (e.g. eco-voucher), networking (e.g. eco-cluster) and sustainable procurement (e.g. eco-products). DESUR DESUR promotes a rather wider concept of sustainable development as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies of SME. In their definition, sustainable development consists of three elements: (1) environmental resources or the planet (2) social environment or people and (3) economic environment or benefits.
The overall objective of the DESUR project is to improve policies, tools and methodologies to promote responsible innovation in SMEs, so they contribute to increasing sustainability in the regions of the participating partners. The good practices mainly cover the successful experiences of SMEs in pursuing sustainable business, as well as support measures for networking and exchange of experience among SMEs.
ECREIN+ ECREIN+: when ascertaining the stakeholders they were working with, they had two approaches: sector and market. They adopted a broader definition of eco-innovation, covering environmental goods and services, as well as the greening of traditional sectors (which was their main problem with their defining of eco-innovation).
In identifying the good practices, they focus on policy support measures addressing eco-innovation, covering for example: green public procurement, directories, financing of eco-innovation projects, research/enterprise collaboration, etc.
ECOREGIONS ECOREGIONS' project partners did not attempt to have a specific definition of eco-innovation. Their starting point focused on Green Growth and the Green Economy. The project aims to improve the governance of eco-innovation and green technologies in the private and the public sectors. (It is expected that they will arrive at a definition by the end of the project).
When identifying good practices, they had a wide approach which covered both the eco-innovative and green solutions, such as low impact housing, heat pumps, bio-gas installation and support schemes and tools, such as regional plans for enterprises and the environment, carbon calculator tools and grant systems.
PROSESC PROSESC's project focused on transportation and mobility. The definition of ‘sustainable transport’ is kept broad, each region is free to adapt and adopt it depending on its local context (industry, sector, service, etc.).
In the project partner regions, there are very different pre-conditions for the transferability of good practices. The regional stakeholders are trying to deal with approaches that are feasible for their region, and, of course, they have a common understanding on eco-innovation and sustainable transport. When identifying good practice examples, the project focused on knowledge-intensive services for sustainable mobility, services in/around product and production engineering as well as logistics management (e.g. product-design, R&D, engineering and IT/software-services, specialised logistics, etc).
CIE CIE's project addresses eco-innovation using a definition by Cleantech, which is part of eco-innovation and focuses on promoting ‘start-ups and incubators’. Cleantech in their understanding includes many thematic focuses, such as energy supply/production, energy and material efficiency, ICT, etc.
The project aims at (1) providing authorities with the skills and knowledge to (further) develop their policy instruments in support of cleantech SMEs and (2) helping cities/regions to facilitate and support cleantech incubators. When identifying the good practices, CIE mostly focuses on the experiences of successful cleantech clusters and incubators in Europe.
- 2.2.3 Typology of regional eco-innovation support instruments
The following section provides an overview of the good practices identified by the projects analysed. The section begins by presenting a typology of eco-innovation support instruments and then goes on to give a general overview of the good practices themselves. This analysis covers all of the good practices identified or transferred by projects and does not place any emphasis on particularly innovative good practices.
Regional authorities and stakeholders can make use of a wide range of instruments in order to promote eco-innovation. This diversity is clearly illustrated when looking at the good practices capitalised on by the projects.
In order to gain a clear understanding of the types of good practices in the field of eco-innovation, it is important to consider the criteria used to define a sound typology of instruments.
Measures supporting eco-innovation are primarily a mix of market-based and regulatory tools. However, there are several other dimensions that distinguish eco-innovation policy initiatives from each other. These include the funding mode, the specific relevance of the focus, the specific innovation chain phase and the thematic focus of the policy instrument being used. The following table presents the main criteria use to define how eco-innovation policy instruments can be classified. It is important to remember that the following criteria are not mutually exclusive, meaning that several may apply to a single policy instrument.
Figure 9: Multi-dimensional framework for the categorisation of good practices
Criteria Groups Funding mode * Non-financial
* Financial: guarantees, loans, fiscal incentives, grants/subsidies/vouchers, venture capital
Focus of support in innovation chain (supply-side/demand-side) * Supply-side focus: equity/business support, support for R&D: basic research, support for R&D: applied research, support for R&D: development and demonstration; education, training and mobility; networks and partnerships
* Demand-side focus: regulations and standards; public procurement; guarantees and other support for additional risks of early buyers; export promotion activities; support for private demand
Specific relevance for eco-innovation * Not relevant
* Relevant for eco-innovation but eco-innovation is not specifically focused
* Focused on eco-innovation (but applicable in other areas of innovation)
* Only possible in area of EI (e.g. a regulation)
Thematic focus * Generic
* Focused on an environmental issue: resource efficiency, energy efficiency
* Focused on environmental management processes: eco-management, eco-design
Other * Measurement/ benchmark instruments, eco-innovation strategies, eco-innovative solutions (product, process, technology), co-innovation assessment tools
Source: TechnopolisFunding mode
Public policies can facilitate access to finance through venture capital incentivising firms to develop innovative, environmentally-friendly technologies, thereby supporting existing SMEs and a new generation of responsible entrepreneurs. These measures can be of particular importance given the greater risk associated with eco-innovations in comparison to more traditional technologies and in view of the lesser ability for creating value for the benefit of the environment.Focus of support in the innovation chain
To create a successful eco-innovation policy mix requires an understanding of the interaction of supply and demand forces. Recalling Edler and Georghiou (2007)56, Kemp (2011) (57) suggests eco-innovation policies can refer to two main categories: supply-side measures and demand-side measures.
“On the one hand, supply-side measures refer to measures providing incentives to the production, the commercialisation or the use of eco-innovation by providing corrections to market imperfections, which would prevent eco-innovative solutions from being autonomously pursued. On the other hand, demand-side measures act at the opposite extreme of the chain by imposing limitations and fixing requirements that organisations should accomplish by rules”.
The range of explicit eco-innovation policies being applied today is very much concerned with the supply side and even more with R&D support of various types, ranging from funding of science in public institutions to fiscal incentives for firms to increase R&D spending. Much less attention has been paid to policies, which could increase either the motivation or the likely success of innovation, by acting upon the demand side, which is the specification and purchase of innovative goods and services.
Examples of supply-side measures include support for public sector research, support for training and mobility, grants for industrial research and development, information and brokerage support, networking promotion. Demand-side measures, on the other hand, may include systemic policies (e.g. clusters), regulation (e.g. standards on sustainable manufacturing), green public procurement and subsidies or tax incentives for private consumers.Thematic focus
Eco-innovation support may or may not have a particular focus on a specific environmental issue. These issues may include:- Climate Change
- Nature and biodiversity
- Environment and health
- Management of natural resources and waste
- Energy efficiency
- Renewable energy sources
- Raw material efficiency
In addition to this, policy instruments may also address a specific environmental management process such as eco-management or eco-design.Specific relevance for eco-innovation
Certain eco-innovation support instruments are tailored to the field of eco-innovation, while others are more generic innovation/environmental support instruments that may apply to eco-innovation. As a result, instruments may be relevant for eco-innovation but not specifically focused on the field, or they may be focused on eco-innovation but applicable in other areas of innovation, or may be exclusively focused on eco-innovation.Others
Finally, among the transferred good practices, we have identified instruments such as measurement/ benchmark instruments, eco-innovation strategies, eco-innovative solutions to specific environmental issues (product, process, technology) and eco-innovation assessment tools.
- 2.2.4 Typology of good practices identified and transferred by INTERREG IVC projects in support of eco-innovation
In total, the seven projects analysed have identified 110 good practice examples, the FRESH project accounting for 52 of them. So far, six of these good practices have been transferred. More good practices are expected to be transferred as the project progresses, allowing the time needed to adopt and implement transferred measures. When the analysis was carried out, not all projects had been completed; four of them were in the first years of implementation and still at the stage of good practice identification.
The classification of the good practices identified in INTERREG IVC projects in the field of eco-innovation reveals that:- The large majority of good practices are non-financial (83), despite the fact that most regions consider financial support crucial to the development of eco-innovation.
- Financial good practices are exclusively focused on grants, subsidies and vouchers. Other types of financial support measures (e.g. guarantees, loans, fiscal incentives, venture capital) have not been tackled by the projects analysed.
- A majority of good practices have a supply-side focus (68). Among these, 26 focus on the promotion of networks and partnerships, and 22 on education, training and mobility.
- Demand-side eco-innovation support good practices are relatively few. These mainly focus on setting regulations and standards.
- Most good practices have a strong focus on eco-innovation but also cover other areas of innovation (non-exclusive focus).
- Thematic coverage: there is a good representation of good practices with energy efficiency/renewable energy focus, a few focus on sustainable construction and transport. Other good practices aimed at resource efficiency improvement are less present.
In addition to this, three types of good practices can be identified:* Policy Good Practices related to specific policy instruments (e.g. policies, programmes, strategies, initiatives etc.)
* Support tool Good Practices related to supporting eco-innovation analysis (e.g. benchmarking instruments, technology atlases, genuine progress indicators (GPIs), etc.)
* Technical Good Practices related to various technical solutions to environmental issues (e.g. low energy housing, biogas plants, etc.)
In terms of transferability, the transfer of technical and support tool good practices is likely to be less complex, but the impact on real eco-innovation may be more limited.
Figure 10: Three types of Good Practices
- 2.2.5 Generic or tailored, what instruments are best suited to support eco-innovation?
One of the main issues policymakers are faced with when choosing or designing policy instruments to support eco-innovation is whether to make use of generic innovation/economic development tools, or to make use of instruments tailored to eco-innovation objectives. The analysis of the good practices shows that regions generally use a mix of both, meaning that the tools that have a strong focus on eco-innovation are not exclusively orientated towards it.
Eco-innovation can indeed be considered to be a branch of generic innovation. However, eco-innovation covers a range of policy objectives that are not necessarily covered by generic innovation (e.g. environment, sustainability, health, land use, etc.). Eco-innovation support initiatives are thus at the cross-roads of several policy objectives and frameworks, making it difficult for policymakers and other stakeholders to select and design the types of policy instruments needed to support it.
In addition to this, in light of its strong environmental dimension, eco-innovation can be perceived as riskier than traditional innovation projects, which are more market-orientated. This is illustrated by current over-reliance of eco-innovations on public sector financing. As a result, eco-innovators face particular barriers in comparison to traditional innovators. In terms of access to financing for example, eco-innovators might experience difficulties owing to:- The much longer profitability horizons, the higher amounts needed and thus the higher risks compared to investing in other sectors such as ICT;
- The difficulties investors may have in understanding the projects presented by entrepreneurs;
- The fact that eco-innovative start-ups are a very heterogeneous group with often very little in common - this makes it difficult for potential investors to evaluate the process and assess the risks;
- The complexity of the legislation and regulations governing the field of eco-innovation, requiring a high degree of specialisation from investors.
As a result, when it comes to deciding whether there is a need for tailored eco-innovation support policies, rather than generic innovation support policies, the answer is rather straightforward. Eco-innovation can be supported through ‘traditional’ innovation support mechanisms. However, to render support more efficiently, it is necessary to tailor policies to more specific eco-innovation-orientated objectives. Some of the objectives mentioned include developing support infrastructure (e.g. the Evalu8 good practice mentioned below), promoting sustainability, protecting the environment and promoting more ethical behaviour.
One particularly interesting example of a tailored eco-innovation support instrument is the Innov’R scheme implemented by the Rhône Alpes Regional Council in France within the ECREIN+ project. The scheme was designed as a classic innovation funding support scheme, aimed at promoting the development of innovative projects within SMEs. The scheme is now exclusively oriented towards the development of innovative projects aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of human activity. As such, the scheme has been able to attract and support a specific population of SMEs that would have been possibly excluded by a more traditional innovation support scheme. Similar examples (e.g. green innovation voucher schemes, recycling grants and innovation fund schemes) are presented in the RECOMMEND and ECREIN+ projects.
Another prominent example of a tailored instrument is the sustainable (or green) public procurement scheme from the Kainuu region in Finland; identified in the FRESH project. Public procurement is a powerful demand creating instrument. National and regional authorities spend a substantial share (up to 20%) of their budget on public procurement. Therefore, imposing sustainability criteria on procurement can spur a significant demand for green and sustainable products and services and thus support eco-innovators who otherwise have to compete with non-green companies.
2.3 Innovative good practices in support of eco-innovation
The most interesting good practices among those identified by the projects are presented below. These good practices could potentially be interesting to other regions in Europe given their success and impact. The presentation below distinguishes good practices based on their funding mode and indicates whether they are a supply or demand side instrument.
- 2.3.1 Finance based instruments
Financial innovation support instruments include guarantees, loans, fiscal incentives, grants/subsidies/vouchers and venture capital schemes.
Among the good practices identified, there were only grant programmes and voucher schemes presented. The most interesting examples are presented below.
Welsh Recycled Content Grant Scheme, United Kingdom - RECOMMEND
The Welsh Recycled Content Grant Scheme is an international good practice which is not hosted by any of the partner regions and was identified and selected jointly by the team of partners of the RECOMMEND project.
The Welsh Recycled Content Grant Scheme is a supply-side measure funded by the Welsh government. It offers capital support to assist manufacturing SMEs to incorporate, or increase, the use of local recycled materials as an input material for manufacturing products, processes or packaging. The instrument is intended to provide support for technology adoption to help Wales meet its aim of a 70% recycling rate by 2025, with 0% going into landfill by 2050.
Wales has a substantive manufacturing centre, with 99.2% of all businesses being SMEs. Of Wales’ 22 local authorities, 6 of them are classed as convergence areas by the European Regional Development Fund. It is these areas that are covered by the scheme.
Funding for the project came from the Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund, giving an annual budget of £150,000 (€182,000). Grants covered up to 30% of total costs (up to £50,000) and were available for capital expenditure and some initial promotional costs to raise awareness of recycle use. Capital expenditure included costs of new production and packaging plants and equipment.
Innov’R applied research grant scheme, France – ECREIN+
The leading programme for eco-innovation support in Rhône Alpes is Innov’R, a joint initiative implemented by the Regional Council, the National Environmental and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), the National Institute for Industrial Property (INPI), the Caisse de Dépôts, the National Innovation Agency (Oseo) and the French Agency for Normalisation (AFNOR). The programme was first implemented in 2008. The main objective behind the creation of the programme is to bring all eco-innovation support stakeholders in the region together into a one-stop-shop scheme for businesses seeking to implement eco-innovation projects.
Innov’R is designed to support the implementation of applied R&D projects in the field of eco-innovation. The tool seeks to enhance the coherence of the multiple existing regional policy tools and to simplify the process of obtaining support for businesses.
Innov’R is a supply-side measure that functions through an open call for projects targeting regional businesses or business clusters seeking to carry out an individual or collaborative eco-innovation project. It covers five fields including: energy; construction and sustainable land development; eco-innovative processes, products or services; GHG emissions management; environmental measuring and evaluation. Since June 2011, the Greater Lyon Council and the Greater Grenoble Council have joined the initiative to create Innov’R verification (Innov’R experimentation). This sub-label of Innov’R gives businesses the opportunity to test and verify the performance of recently developed technologies or products, in real-life conditions, within public administrations. This is meant to support and facilitate the entry of young products or technologies into the market.
REMake Green Innovation Vouchers, Germany - RECOMMEND
REMake Green Innovation Vouchers is an international good practice which is not hosted by any of the partner regions and was identified and selected jointly by the team of partners of the RECOMMEND project.
REMake vouchers are a two-stage voucher scheme (auditing and implementation) set up to give easy access to public funding for manufacturing SMEs looking to become more environmentally friendly and save resources. They are mostly a demand-side instrument, allowing SMEs to hire an external expert to assess resource use and waste production and then oversee the introduction of new technologies and services (technology transfer).
Voucher schemes have met with success in a number of countries, and Germany ran a trial from September 1st 2010 to March 31st 2011, before launching the scheme fully on April 1st 2011. The rationale behind the vouchers is that SMEs have many innovative ideas but cannot always implement them due to a lack of technical or business expertise. This is particularly the case in manufacturing, where resource use is intensive.
The voucher scheme has two funding rates: 67% of consulting fees up to €15,000 and 50% up to €30,000. The scheme is only open to SMEs (fewer than 250 employees and a turnover of less than €50m). REMake vouchers are administered by the German Material Efficiency Agency (demea) and have an approximate budget of €400,000 a year.
2.3.2 Non-financial instruments
Non-financial mode-based instruments include (a) innovation supply support measures via training, capacity building, information, mobility, network/partnership building, exchange, demonstration programmes and tools, various tools/methodologies that help educating, measuring/benchmarking and (b) innovation demand support measures, such as green public procurement schemes, regulatory instruments like standards, designs and eco-labels.
- (a) Supply-side instrument good practices
The West-Pannon Automotive Benchmarking Club, Hungary – PROSESC
The Automotive Benchmarking Club (ABMC) was founded in 2002 to help companies to develop and learn from each other. It is a new framework for business learning and functional innovation.
Companies gather data on their performance each half year, then pass this information on to an independent service provider (cluster management), which validates and summarises the data with the help of an external expert. The results are circulated anonymously to each member (but only the same type of information as that which was provided by the member). After each semester, a visit to one of the participating companies is held to learn from best practices and to analyse the results more deeply together with the members. Primary target groups were serial manufacturers in the automotive sector, including SMEs. Implementing the ABMC took 2-3 years.
The ABMC has led to knowledge transfer, an improvement in the participating companies’ performance, the implementation of new processes and methods, as well as marketing and PR value for the award-winning companies. The benchmark processes also included new services for cluster management and have, in addition, led to new supplier partnerships among participating partners.
There are three critical success factors: the number of participating companies, agreement on measurement method and the continuity of the activities. Furthermore it is important to study and analyse the outputs using several kinds of indicators. Specific problems may rise because of the fluctuation in the number of participating companies (because of crises, owner changes, etc.) and the gap between SMEs and multinationals.
The role of the government is mainly one of initiating the practice and helping to build trust. This trust is further increased by an independent cluster manager with specific expertise in the sector. At present, all activities are financed by the participating companies themselves. Within the PROSESC project, this measure has successfully been transferred to the region around Timisoara in Romania.
TecNet Platforms for open innovation, Germany – PROSESC
Today, supply processes in the automotive sector are rather difficult to access. The final car manufacturers (Original Equipment Manufacturers or OEMs) receive their products and modules from a certain number of specialised companies that have already been working together with the OEM in the automotive sector for a long time. The TecNet Platform for ideas is an open innovation approach enabling smaller suppliers and companies from outside the sector to gain entry into the group of suppliers for car manufacturers.
The innovation process starts with obtaining a brief description of the car manufacturer’s fields of interest for further development. A cluster management organisation, as a neutral body, disseminates the news about these fields of interest amongst the cluster and other participating clusters outside the region and sector, thereby enabling the entry of new companies into the group of suppliers.
In a second step, parties that are able to and interested in helping the car manufacturer send their proposals to solve a specific problem to the cluster management, which then – as a neutral party – hands the ideas onto to the OEM. This can be completely open or made anonymous through non-disclosure agreements. If the OEM finds an adequate solution among the propositions, the neutral body sets up the contact.
Primary target groups are OEMs, Tier 1 and other automotive suppliers, research institutions and companies from outside the sector.
The first car manufacturer in the Stuttgart Region used the approach through a call for four solutions for a future product and received many proposals. To date, several new co-operations have been established. Other companies have recognised the success and find the idea interesting and are currently (mid 2012) preparing a call.
Setting up the system took approximately 6 months. The good practice has not yet been transferred to other regions.
Evalu8, United Kingdom – PROSESC
The EValu8 project is aimed at securing a lead position for the East of England in the UK’s take-up of electric vehicles by installing and developing an interoperable networked recharging infrastructure which is essential for the uptake of the new technology. EValu8 will provide 600 double-headed recharging posts across the East of England, supporting an expected fleet of some 2,000 EVs and stretching over 7,500 square miles. By the end of 2013, all residents and businesses based in the East of England will be within 25 miles of a recharging post.
The project has brought together academia, some disparate industry sectors and the SMEs group, all with a common focus on innovation: shift in the transport industry from purely fossil- fuel consumption to a greater use of electricity.
The initial part of the project was to install infrastructure. Evalu8 is supported by a Steering Group assembled from across industry, the local authorities, the energy suppliers and user groups. Now over two hundred charging points have been installed and some high profile launch events have been organised. The charging points are interoperable with neighbouring regions.
The project has raised awareness of electric vehicles and has got SMEs talking about employing electric vehicles. It has also made transport planners ask questions about electric vehicles. The initiative took 27 months and has not yet been transferred to other regions. In other regions, comparable ‘infrastructure’-driven initiatives have been introduced and experiences exchanged.
The Copenhagen cleantech cluster, Denmark – CIE
The Copenhagen cleantech cluster's (CCC) good practice was proposed by the Delft University of Technology.
CCC was launched by Danish cleantech companies, research institutions and public organisations with the vision to develop one of the world's leading and most renowned cleantech clusters, to create superior value for the cluster companies and research environments and to differentiate the cluster by tying cleantech technologies and communities together across sectors, value chains and borders. It is funded by the Capital Region of Denmark, the Danish region of Sjælland and EU structural funds.
The objectives of CCC are to (1) create continuous growth for existing cleantech companies, (2) support and assist new cleantech companies; and (3) to attract more foreign cleantech companies to the region.
CCC focuses on 4 major cleantech areas: wind energy, bio-energy, smart energy system integration and fuel cell use and involves the cooperation of the following actors:- Research institutions: the Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI), the Risø Danish Technical University (DTU), the University of Copenhagen, the Copenhagen Resource Institute, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS)
- Industry: Siemens, Novozymes, Haldor Topsøe, Better Place, Vestas, Ernst & Young, Oland, Seas-NVE, Deloitte, Dong Energy
- Governmental institutions: Copenhagen Capacity, the Confederation of Danish Industry, Scion DTU, Symbion Science Park, EnergyMap.dk, Business Frederikssund, Municipality of Roskilde and Kalund-borg, Business Link
- Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
Within the CCC, there are three incubators:* Vaeksthus/CompanyHouse (a national general incubator service to both technology and service start-ups in all industries)
* Symbion (which focuses on business support, coaching pre-seed and seed investment programmes)
* CAT Science (which plays a role in providing a seed fund to innovative start-ups)
Eco Cluster, Italy – FRESH
Eco Cluster's good practice was contributed by the Veneto Region in Italy. The Eco Cluster is a legal entity, set up to promote the quality of life with regard to sustainable development, focusing on sustainable construction. Construction projects are evaluated according to 7 parameters: external environmental quality, resource consumption, environmental weight, indoor environmental quality, service quality, management quality and transports. Construction sector players are trained and guided on how to plan and design buildings with good environmental performance. The Eco cluster was retained among the good practices because of its performance both from the environmental as well as the economic perspective (a market for sustainable construction is a reality with good growth prospects) but also for the transferability of its methodology and its complementarity with Law 4/2007 promoting the creation of sustainable construction market.
Genuine Progress Indicator, Finland – FRESH
The Genuine Progress Indicator is a good practice presented by the Regional Council of Päijät Häme of FInland. The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) tries to capture the economic, social and environmental dimensions of well-being into one single measure through the deliberate pricing of environmental degradation, resource depletion and social aspects. It accounts for non-market services and benefits that are ignored in the traditional national accounting framework and compensates for negative externalities (types of expenditure with compensation or time loss) due to social inequality, working life and urbanisation. It is therefore a good measurement for sustainable value creation development. The GPI has been tested internationally since 1996. Two FRESH regions, the West region in Romania and the Veneto region in Italy, proceeded to test the feasibility of GPI at regional level. The testing proved challenging, but regions did succeed in adopting it. The outcomes were that the West region Romania has adopted a two-dimensional indicator and produced a report analysing its performance based on this indicator. The case of Veneto is very different to the case of Romania. Veneto has managed to introduce a 3-dimensional indicator, which has allowed them to be among the few EU regions to lead in GPI application.
Regional Planning Guidelines, Ireland – FRESH
The Regional Planning Guidelines good practice was contributed by the Mid-West Regional Authority (IE). This good practice provides a methodology for creating evidence-based policy decision-making consensus around potentially conflicting issues, such as land uses, urban infrastructures (water, electricity, etc) and so on. It has led to rationalised land use planning, ensuring the affordable cost of infrastructures, environmental protection and accessibility to services. This means it impacts positively on all three dimensions of sustainability:- environmental,
- economic and
Practice based innovation sessions, Finland – FRESH
Practice-based innovation sessions was contributed by Lappeenranta University of Technology / Lahti School of Innovation (FI). This good practice provides innovation support to SMEs and the public sector. Innovation sessions are a method based on the idea of intellectual cross-fertilisation among various sectors. They bring together different areas of expertise for creative dialogue on common problems. It has been tested in Lahti with good results (at least one bankable business idea per session, for the sectors of clean technology (eco innovation), furniture and plastics. In FRESH, this good practice was retained because it is one of the tools that can be used to involve SMEs in eco-innovation. In order to be effectively transferred, the approach needs to be adapted and should reflect the priorities of the adopting regions with regard to sustainable construction.
Sustainable Design and Construction Supplementary Planning Guidance, United Kingdom – FRESH
Sustainable Design and Construction Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) was contributed by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, UK. The aim of SPG is to improve the overall sustainability of new developments by providing guidance and setting standards across the main elements of sustainable design and construction. The SPG seeks to promote sustainable development by looking at the sustainability of constructions during and through the construction planning system. It sets essential and preferred standards, the former based primarily on existing legal standards whilst the latter sets out a roadmap for the construction industry. The SPG good practice has been retained because of its methodological approach and emphasis on the planning stage of construction, as well as for the essential and preferred standards it promotes.
Bio-energy factory, Italy - ECOREGIONS
The Bio-energy Factory's good practice has been contributed by the Cremona Chamber of Commerce (IT).
The Bio-energy Factory fosters and optimises the use of available biomasses, thus increasing the production of green energy without being detrimental to existing productive resources in favour of green technologies. The operation is structured around three interconnected areas: research, services and the observatory. This initiative is of particular relevance due to the high involvement of civil society and other local stakeholders as well as the mobilisation of public and private capital used to set up the financing scheme. The initiative is designed to bring about:- The improved capacity of the SMEs to deal, incorporate and make use of green technologies;
- The optimisation of the food chain within the bio-mass producing province without converting lands for the production of bio-matrices used for green energy;
- Support to the companies to be effective in the removal of nitrogen from the digested material using innovative techniques to meet the current EU requirements on contamination from nitrates;
- Creation and promotion of a more effective green technology/economy culture that encompasses a significant change of behaviour for the civil society, companies, private and public bodies;
- Creation of a mechanism to allow civil society to participate in the development of the initiative so as to guarantee long-term innovative growth (quadruple helix model) and to achieve a broad societal consensus on the use of green technologies;
- Wide-scale use of green technologies to significantly contribute to achieving long-term sustainable development;
- Assessment of potential and suitability of new and/or alternative bio-matrices (prime, combined, processed) for green energy or processing.
Energy Efficiency Network Thuringia, Germany – ECOREGIONS
The Energy Efficiency Network (ENT) good practice was presented by the State Development Corporation of Thuringia (DE)
ENT Thuringia supports businesses in reducing their energy consumption and their CO2 emissions. Within a pilot phase, 15 businesses are monitoring their energy consumption. Furthermore, they are receiving support in detecting and improving their energy efficiency. Since the network activities include best-practice exchange, various methods for improvement are being discussed and presented in a common catalogue of measures. Currently, the networks’ businesses are implementing the measures they chose for reducing their energy consumption. This way, less money needs to be paid for energy, and CO2 emissions are reduced.
The ENT is coordinated by the Thuringian Energy and GreenTech Agency which is part of the State Development Corporation of Thuringia.
Portaferm – Small Manure Biogas Plant, Germany – ECOREGIONS
The good practice Portaferm has been put forward by the State Development Corporation of Thuringia (DE).
Thuringia can be classified as a rural area. Rural areas have the same demand for reducing energy costs as cities. But the options for producing energy from renewable sources are better because of the short distances involved in transporting biomass materials. The development of a decentralised energy production combined with the use of biomass material is a good opportunity for small farms, for which the construction of a conventional biogas plant is not lucrative, to convert their liquid manure to electricity and heat at low cost, while additionally improving the fertilising properties of the manure.. At the moment in Thuringia, large bio-gas plants are common. But they often do not meet the needs in electric power and heat of the rural areas. It was recognised that no adequate small bio-gas plants were available to buy. Therefore the association for renewable energy decided to design and develop such a plant especially for farmers owning only a few farm animals so as to better serve their needs. The operation of a small bio-gas plant becomes economically more interesting if the heat produced by the conversion of the bio-gas to electricity (combined heat and power production) can be used outside the bio-gas plant.
Competence Atlas of Environmental Technology and Resource Efficiency, Germany – ECREIN+
The competence atlas was created in response to the study carried out by McKinsey and the Institute for Applied Economic Research, based on a further survey that included 2,000 companies in Baden-Württemberg. Its main objectives are to collect and analyse data in order to recognise the strengths and deficits within the environmental technologies sector and to offer companies a platform on which to present their products and services, at both a national and international level. This is also designed to act as a means to allow companies to find new partners, enter into new cooperative ventures or form bidding consortiums, all of which would prove to be far more effective in international competition as opposed to one company standing alone. In addition, the competence atlas is also designed to make the process of searching for an appropriate service provider or supplier as easy as possible for the customer, while at the same time supporting local companies and placing them at the forefront as being the best the sector has to offer. The atlas provides clearly structured company profiles of products, processes and services, the main foci of research and development, innovative successes and experiences of activities abroad, all of which create a greater level of transparency in the field of green technologies.
Energy House, Sweden – ECREIN+
The Energy House initiative arose due to the increased focus on and need for green solutions both from an environmental and business perspective and the difficulty experienced in bringing new ideas from their conceptualisation to market. Rooted in a long tradition of cooperation between the universities, industry and the public sector, the initiative responds to both growing societal and industrial needs. The Energy House seeks to (1) establish and develop demand-driven initiatives to capitalise on research findings, minimise risks for early adopters and shorten ‘conceptualisation to market’ processes for new technique and system solutions in the field of sustainable energy use and supply and (2) to establish user-driven demonstrations and field-studies which can verify new solutions in real time and assist increased market up-take in SMEs. The Energy House initiative is steered and funded by the region's foundation (STUNS) for cooperation between the universities in Uppsala, the business sector and the community.
The main idea is to keep the customer perspective and see what benefits / needs the client and their customers can see in the future. Individual projects have been completed over the past few years, and a number of products and companies have now received clear benefits.
- (b) Demand-side instrument good practices
Sustainable Procurement Regulation, Finland – FRESH
The Sustainable Procurement Regulation's good practice was proposed by Kainuun Etu Ltd. and the Joint Authority of the Kainuu Region.
The Board of Directors of the Regional Council of Kainuu approved the new sustainable procurement regulation on 21st January 2013. The new regulation also imports good practices from FRESH, namely provisions of the TC/CEN 350 regulating standards for sustainability of construction works 60 and thereby opens the door for the uptake of such advanced sustainable construction tools as the BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM)61 and the Code for Sustainable Homes, as well as of implementing development actions supporting the performance of the construction sector of Kainuu in the forthcoming Construction Products Regulation (CPR).
This was also a result of cooperation with SCINET62 (Sustainable Construction & Innovation through Procurement) whose project resulted from the cross fertilisation between the two projects.
SBToolCZ, Czech Republic - RECOMMEND
The SBToolCZ good practice has been identified and proposed by Ekoportm, the Czech partner in the RECOMMEND project.
SBToolCZ is a demand-side eco-management instrument. It is a certification tool for the evaluation of construction quality levels in accordance with sustainable construction principles. It is proposed to architects, engineers and building firms. The certification scheme acts as a marketing tool and as inspiration for new innovative solutions.
The main aims are to eliminate buildings’ environmental impacts, to provide support to improve energy efficiency (in accordance with EU directive 2010/31/EU), to improve the interior environment and ultimately to stimulate the demand for sustainable construction.
Certification costs vary between € 200-2 000, depending on the scale of the project. Certification is carried out by authorised auditors. The administering agency is the Faculty of Civil Engineering at the Czech Technical University in Prague.
SBToolCZ is being applied in Spain, Italy and Portugal and was adapted for the Czech Republic with funding from the Ministry of Education. Although its development began in 2005, the instrument was not rolled out until 2010. Two buildings were certified between 2010 and 2011 but it is hoped that more than 30 will be certified in 2012.
Investors in the Environment, United Kingdom - RECOMMEND
Investors in the Environment (IiE) was proposed by the Peterborough Environment City Trust and Opportunity Peterborough, UK.
IiE is a demand-side measure; a not-for-profit environmental accreditation scheme, designed to help businesses to save money and reduce their impact on the environment. It is designed to fill a gap in the accreditation market, namely that ISO-14001 certification can be expensive and difficult for smaller businesses to achieve. IiE is applicable to all businesses and has its own Environmental Management System. The scheme helps to promote environmentally-friendly business through regular networking events and media exposure. Its start-up was initially supported by the Environment Capital Partnership, the Environment Agency and Peterborough City Council and other bodies, but IiE is now financially self-sustaining, as companies pay for their accreditation. The initial start-up funding was £12 500, made through initial LPSA funding. Over 700 companies have pledged to seek accreditation, with 100 having done so already.
There are three levels of accreditation: bronze, silver and green. Charges for accreditation vary (£150-800) depending on the accreditation level desired and the number of employees. Initially accreditation was for SMEs, but is now open to any business looking to apply. The scheme has been franchised in Yorkshire and is being examined by other English regions.
Code for Sustainable Homes, United Kingdom – FRESH
The Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) was contributed by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, UK. The CSH is a standard for sustainable construction and an assessment method for housing projects. It was introduced in the UK in April 2007 as a voluntary national standard to improve the overall sustainability of new homes by laying down a single framework within which the home building industry can design and construct homes to higher environmental standards. In 2010, it became the essential standard. It measures the environmental impact and potential running costs against nine design categories (Energy & CO2 emissions, Water, Materials, Surface water run-off, Waste, Pollution, Health and wellbeing, Management and Ecology), rating the ‘whole home’ as a complete package. The CSH is a tool par excellence for the public sector. It has been retained as one of the cross-cutting good practices of FRESH, and several partner regions are introducing it into their eco-innovation component.
2.4 Lessons in identification and transfer of good practices
A number of lessons learnt regarding the identification and transfer of good practices have been drawn through the thematic capitalisation analysis. It is worth highlighting at this point that the ‘methodological’ dimension of good practice exchange among selected projects was not a core objective of the exercise; all the information regarding the exchange of experience processes are the subject of a study on the exchange of experience process undertaken by the INTERREG IVC programme (64).
These lessons can be divided into two broad categories based on their specific relevance to the issue of eco-innovation:
1. The first set of lessons can be categorised as generic, as they can apply to any good practice regardless of the theme addressed:
- Generic lessons
- Transfer of the good practice is not a direct ‘copy-paste’ procedure. Consideration of the relevance, rationale, concept and context (institutional, political, social, economic, etc.) of the good practice is very important when looking to export/import it.
- In some cases, it is more important to improve existing policy initiatives based on the experiences of other regions, rather than to transfer new policy initiatives and start from scratch. This approach will allow regions to build on the work other regions have done and benefit from the ‘incremental’ policy development perspective.
- When transferring good practices, the motivation level of regions is very important as there needs to be a real demand coming from the importing region.
- It is also important for regional authorities and institutions involved in the transfer to have sufficient learning capacity and cooperation skills.
- For the transferability of good practices, there is a need for a horizontal (policy) and vertical (technology/sectoral) perspective. In other words, the policy landscape should be favourable to the new good practice. Furthermore, the technology or the policy instrument needs to be adapted to local conditions, and there should be sufficient knowledge/expertise/skills to support and implement it.
- It is important to have well-developed methodologies for the identification and transfer of good practices. The public sector should also be innovative in transferring good practices.
- Technical good practices should be transferred along with the policy measures supporting them.
- Methodological good practices (e.g. benchmarking tools and scoreboards) should complement tangible good practices (policy instruments and technologies) which facilitate speed-up and catch-up in lagging regions.
2. In the specific field of eco-innovation, it is also important to take into account the following points when identifying and exchanging good practices:
- Specific points
- It is important to consider the social responsiveness of society, green pressures and local market demand in the identification and exchange of eco-innovation good practices.
- Commitment of the regional government to the sustainability goals (e.g. having specific green targets, or sustainability strategy) can ensure the success of the transfer and implementation of eco-innovation good practices.
- From the analysis of the good practices within the field of eco-innovation, there are three broad types– technical, policy and support tool good practices. Technical and support tool good practices require less coordination and long-term commitment to be successfully transferred. However, the impacts in terms of eco-innovation outcomes are likely to be lower than those of a policy good practice. In addition, when transferring a technical good practice, it is important for partner regions to also ensure a minimum transfer of the know-how necessary to ensure the successful operation of the technical solution.
- Due to the cross-cutting nature of eco-innovation, importing eco-innovation-related good practices requires additional efforts from regional stakeholders to involve a wide range of players and audiences in the exchange process.
- Eco-innovation can be supported via generic innovation support instruments. However, tailoring it to eco-innovation needs and objectives will ensure more efficient results.
- Eco-innovation is riskier and generally more expensive than traditional innovation. Greener products and services are still not mainstream and in terms of cost cannot fully compete with mainstream products and services. Therefore special support measures and framework conditions need to be fostered. This should be taken into account when identifying and exchanging good practices and analysing the results of INTERREG IVC projects.
2.5 Key success factors in promoting regional eco-innovation policies
The discussions with the project partners during the interviews and workshop and the analysis of the collected information suggest the following core pre-requisites for the successful implementation of eco-innovation policies at regional level:
- Core pre-requisites
- The regional actors should build a long-term development strategy that incorporates sustainability goals and targets, which gives a basis for regional actions, measures and policies that focus on promoting eco-innovation in regional industries (manufacturing, services), public sector and other areas.
- Specific sustainability targets and long term regional strategies will secure stable economic and market signals for other actors to start investing in greener projects and businesses, shape company plans and reap economic benefit from eco-innovations.
- Regions should make more strategic choices in regional planning and selecting the priority development areas. In doing so the regions should capitalise on their uniqueness (e.g. based on the ecosystems' resources/services existing in the regions, geographical specificities or location, energy/resource potential, human capital and its specialisation, existence of local industrial clusters and unique technological knowledge/capabilities, potentially promising but not well-developed service or industry);
- Regional governments are the key facilitator in linking all the main stakeholders (research, industry/business and consumers’ organisations) together in setting and implementing eco-innovation polices/strategies/actions in the region.
- Regional authorities should show a committed leadership in promoting sustainability in the region. Regional governments and public institutions should show an example of eco-innovation adopters. By implementing sustainability measures and greening their activities, offices, administration, public organisations not only set an example, they also create a demand for eco-innovative products and services (e.g. via green public procurement) and show viability and benefits of eco-innovations/eco-innovative measures and attract green investment to the region.
- Research institutes and companies/SMEs are seen as the main sources and hosts of eco-innovation. Therefore it is important to improve their access to innovation support schemes (e.g. funding, vouchers, low interest loans, training and networking platforms) for potential eco-innovators (research institutes and companies). At the same time it is argued that SMEs and companies should not receive monetary support, as this is likely to act as a counter-incentive. Incentives to innovate should preferably be indirect.
- Local skills development is crucial for promoting eco-innovation in regions (development, adoption and diffusion). Regional governments together with knowledge institutes and industries should support skill-development and find skills/collaborators across borders. This will help to build strong local capabilities which will help to sustain green and economically viable economies in the long run.
- In regional planning, it is important to take into account and be informed about national and supranational policies, targets and regulations. This will help to avoid any conflicting strategies, plans or decisions.
- In terms of multi-level governance for eco-innovation, it is suggested that many regional support measures require complementary assistance from the national level of support (e.g. certain projects can be launched at the regional level but require national support in order to be effectively implemented and shared).
Furthermore, there are a number of success factors relating to the specific thematic areas of the projects:
- Specific success factors
- In promoting green entrepreneurship, it is very important to provide support, such as providing capacity building support in the early stage of business development. Capacity building support could be provided through different means, such as Innovation vouchers schemes (RECOMMEND), grants/subsidies (ECREIN+, RECOMMEND) or supporting incubators and clusters (CIE, RECOMMEND).
- In promoting more sustainable transport and mobility policies, reduction of the public transport cost could motivate people to use their car less and use public transport instead. An example from Estonia65 where free public transport has been introduced is a bold experimental case in this field which could provide interesting learning for other regions or Member States.
- Transferring standards for sustainable construction appears to attract the interest of the stakeholders in regions (e.g. the FRESH project). However, the transfer of such regulatory instruments needs the involvement of national and regional regulatory bodies. Project partners therefore need to establish a close link with such bodies and actively involve them in the project.
- In construction and office space building, it is also important to maintain cooperation with the diverse regional players because this will help in more efficient planning and further use of the resources (FRESH).
- In promoting and transferring sustainable energy innovation in regions and defining specialisation in sustainable energy areas, it is important to give thorough consideration to climatic conditions, as often technologies developed in other climatic zones perform differently when they are applied in new locations (e.g. sustainable homes in FRESH projects, heat pumps and bio-gas in ECOREGIONS). Also, it is very important to assess the technical potential for renewable energy, as every region has different natural endowments in terms of sun, wind, hydro, agricultural residues/biomass, etc.
2.6 Actual and potential links and synergies
2.6.1 Links and synergies among the analysed INTERRG IVC projects
As it was shown in the project overview (section 1) the projects analysed as part of the thematic capitalisation exercise have not planned any special activities aimed at exchanging experiences, methodologies, or developing synergies with other INTERREG IVC projects or external programmes. However, several projects' partners have established contacts allowing them to informally share knowledge on specific topics (e.g. cleantech incubators and sustainable construction). Previous INTERREG IVC events have generally served as meeting grounds for projects and project partners, where they can get to know each other and started discussing common issues.
As a result, most of the communication taking place among projects has taken place outside the planned project activities. For example, CIE team members from Delft University have been exchanging with the RECOMMEND partner from the Peterborough team, as they have identified common issues on the incubators' development topic. The RECOMMEND team has also been exchanging with the FRESH project team on issues related to eco-design under the sustainable construction theme. The FRESH team members also cooperated with the INTERREG IVC project, Cradle to Cradle Network (C2CN), which is from another thematic lot but has relevance to the eco-innovation theme.
The thematic specificity of the PROSESC project could explain its relative isolation to some extent.
Nevertheless, the potential for cross-fertilisation and learning is there because many of the identified good practices could be relevant for several projects. For instance, the experience of the development of innovation clusters, or how to organise the grants and innovation vouchers' schemes could be of interest to several projects. However the means for project cross-fertilisation to take place needs to be adopted. A measure as simple as creating an email distribution list in order to circulate important news and outputs of projects among other projects could allow them to move forward in this respect. The ECREIN+ and FRESH projects, for example, recently completed their good practice guides, which could be of interest to other projects.
2.6.2 Links and synergies with the initiatives undertaken in other EU programmes
The external links of eco-innovation INTERREG IVC projects with other EU initiatives and programmes are rather weak. FRESH seems to be the only project who had cross-fertilisation with the SCINET project on sustainable procurement approaches (which is supported by the European Commission’s CIP programme under the Lead Market Initiative).
Potentially, there are many possibilities for project partners to benefit from the knowledge generated by other EU support schemes and access funding for the actual implementation of exchanged good practices.
For example, each project involves partners from research/knowledge and industry sectors, who could benefit from participating in the Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7), which provides grant for research projects. Regional SMEs, knowledge organisations, as well as NGOs and public organisations can also benefit from the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme – Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (CIP-EIP), which supports projects in eco-innovation through financial instruments, networking of key players and pilot and market replication projects. The Energy-efficient buildings (EeB) programme has a financial envelope of €1 billion to boost the construction sector and aims to promote green technologies and the development of energy efficient systems and materials in new and renovated buildings. The programme is financed jointly by industry and the FP7 programme.
The upcoming Horizon 2020 programme will combine current FP7 and CIP programmes. 60% of the available €80bn of funds will be related to sustainable development (eco-innovation, resource efficiency, climate actions, smart and green transport). This can provide wider opportunities for regional stakeholders to promote eco-innovations in their regions.
Regional governments can also benefit from the LIFE+ programme supporting the development and implementation of the EU’s environmental policy and legislation and the relevant thematic strategies. Eco-innovation and environmental technologies are part of the Environment Policy and Governance component of LIFE+.
Financial support (€1.4bn) is ensured for SMEs via the Competitiveness & SME Equity & guarantees (COSME), in which sustainability and eco-innovation is an important topic.
Urban development initiatives can also benefit from The Smart Cities and Communities Initiative of the EU. This initiative supports cities and regions in taking ambitious measures to progress towards a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, through the sustainable use and production of energy. The EU has allocated €365 million for 2013 under this initiative to support the demonstration of energy, transport and information and communication technologies in urban areas.
The Intelligent Energy – Europe programme (IEE) funds three different types of activities: projects pioneering sustainable energy ideas in practice; products and services procured to meet the needs of the European Commission and/or the EACI and the project development assistance facilities to mobilise funds for investments in sustainable energy at local level. The majority of the programme's budget goes to funding projects across the EU that support and promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. Funds can be used to cover up to 75% of the project's costs.