Mountain areas-A spirit of innovation
Being obliged to deal with major challenges in their everyday life, mountain people have been dynamic and innovative throughout 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 organisational, social, environmental, etc.
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 of 2008. 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: the European Commission introduced “Innovation Partnerships” as from 2011, starting with one partnership dedicated to “Active and Healthy Ageing” followed-up by Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability, Water, Raw Materials, and Smart Cities. Mountain areas should have their say and collaborate in those partnerships in order to raise awareness of the specificities of these regions.
Euromontana also closely follows the Smart Specialization Strategy approach implemented by the European Commission. “Smart specialisation means identifying the unique characteristics and assets of each country and region, highlighting each region’s competitive advantages, and rallying regional stakeholders and resources around an excellence-driven vision of their future.” (RIS3 Factsheet) Mountain people and businesses are particularly well placed to develop innovative solutions and new ideas because they face specific challenges that require specific solutions such as: demographic changes, climate change, international competition in both economy and access to markets, and digital divide. These challenges are a great stimulus to creativity. Fostering innovation is the most promising way forward to address these challenges, thus contributing to economic diversification and to increased competitiveness.
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 VIIth 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.
- Horizon 2020: information on funding opportunities in the different calls and project development.
- Euromontana replied to the European Commission’s public stakeholder consultation for the mid-term evaluation of Horizon 2020 in January 2017.
- Subgroup on Innovation of the European Rural Networks’ Assembly: Euromontana is one of 60 expert organisations active in this group, launched since 2015. Read our articles on that subject in the Documents & Links section (only for members).
- Focus Group on Knowledge Transfer and Innovation of the European Network for Rural Development. The FG provided recommendations to Member States about how to promote KT&I in 2014-2020 programming period (March 2013). It also investigated how the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability can effectively promote KT&I through the Rural Development Programmes.
- 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, in October 2010
- September 2010 | VIIth European Mountain Convention, Lillehammer (Norway)
- Study on Innovation and Circular Economy in the Mountain Forest Supply Chain: How to Close the Loop?, by Euromontana, 2017
- How can mountains make significant contributions to EU 2020? Discover the Towards Mountain 2020 framework and priority fiches
Euromontana is a partner of the HORIZON 2020 project “SIMRA” coordinated by the James Hutton Institute in the UK.
The project aims to advance understanding and promote social innovation in agriculture, forestry, and rural development, particularly in marginalized rural areas of Europe and the Mediterranean region. It will create a classification of social innovations in rural areas, create an integrated set of methods to evaluate social innovations and their impacts, and synthesise and disseminate new and improved knowledge of social innovations and novel governance mechanisms.
“A new CAP: Mountain of opportunities” is an information campaign coordinated by Euromontana, in collaboration with six of its members from Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia and Romania. This campaign is co-funded by the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission.
Read the thematic factsheet on Innovation here