Mountain areas-A spirit of innovation
Being obliged to deal with major challenges in their every day life, mountain people have been dynamic and innovative down the ages. Problems of remoteness and accessibility, lack of services, sparseness of population and businesses, etc. all these disadvantages mountain areas have to face do have a positive implication as well. New ideas and original ways of overcoming these difficulties illustrate that constraints can be turned into engines of innovation, innovation being here understood in a broad sense, as being not only technological but also incremental, organisational, social, environmental.
Innovation at the core of Europe’s vision
Innovation is increasingly considered as a key lever solution to achieve greater competitiveness of European countries at a global scale and to respond to the consequences of the financial crisis. To do this, European policy makers have made a commitment to encourage all European regions to better stimulate innovation and competitiveness and to help them build on their strengths. Several strategies have been developed to this end:
- EU2020 Strategy – Innovation Union: Innovation, together with research, is the core of this strategy aiming to energize European businesses. Constantly raising awareness of the opportunities that lie in mountain and rural areas will be of high importance for future policy developments in that respect.
- EU Innovation Partnerships: starting from2011, the European Commission will introduce “Innovation Partnerships” starting with one partnership dedicated to “Active and Healthy Ageing”. Mountain areas should have their say and collaborate in those partnerships in order to raise awareness of the specificities of these regions.
The theme of innovation is too rarely associated with rural and mountain areas. Euromontana members adopted as an objective to contribute to fill this gap through networking, communication and projects development.
In the course of the preparation of the 7th European Mountain Convention entitled “European Mountain Areas – A spirit of Innovation” innovation became a central topic in the network’s reflections. During this high level conference it was proved that mountain areas have a lot to contribute when it comes to innovation.
- Follow–up of activities at EU level: Euromontana closely follows and informs its members about the European policy development as regards innovation. The main document of the European Commission in this respect is the Innovation Union that was released in 2010. More information: here
- Elaboration of a political declaration of Euromontana members on how to take full advantage of European mountains’ innovation potential
- Focus Group on Knowledge Transfer and Innovation of the European Network for Rural Development. The FG will provide recommendations to Member States about how to promote KT&I in the next programming period. It is also investigating how the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability can effectively promote KT&I through the RDPs.
- Collection of good practices “Innovative approaches to foster sustainable development in European mountain areas”:download the good practices here
- Horizon 2020: information on funding opportunities in the different calls and project development.
7th European Mountain Convention”European Mountain Areas – A spirit of Innovation” September 2010, Lillehammer, Norway