Policy Recommendations from the Periscope Network

12 May 2020 - Published by Stig Marthinsen

After two years of operation, and having analysed the innovation climate in NSR, the Periscope Network hosted the Periscope Forum bringing together strategists, policymakers and politicians to discuss the main issues that need to be addressed through EU programming in the next programming period, with a special focus on the North Sea Region Strategy 2030. 

The high-level stakeholders gathered at the Round Table at the Periscope Forum suggested the following flagship actions in order to improve the innovation climate in the North Sea Region. Future programming should aim at strengthening the North Sea region’s position as a frontrunner in the blue economy with emphasis on its ability to innovate. 

The main recommendations were:

1. Flexible, coherent and aligned finance and funding schemes from multiple programmes for the financing of cross-border innovation with potential for global leadership in the blue economy should be enabled, providing availability of and synergies between investments and funds on transregional levels. Enable shared access to innovation testing infrastructure, innovation ecosystems and communities across borders. Establish a NSR Innovation Fund to stimulate trans-national co-operation. There is a pressing need for smaller funding amounts (up to 50K) to stimulate the sector. Establish a blue investment platform for the sustainable blue economy linked to the investment bank, or even establish a ‘blue’ investment bank directed at the NSR. Accompanying could be a Maritime Blue Accelerator to assist small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups with mentorship and other support services including access to funders. 

2. In order to maintain a sustainable ecosystem for the Blue NSR – including business support and the role of clusters, digital innovation hubs and research & innovation infrastructures, establish a “Blue Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC)”. The KIC should be able to spur activities from large lighthouse projects to stimulating collaborative SME-driven innovations by awarding innovation vouchers reducing barriers for cross-border collaboration and international business development in new markets. Regional developments would be based on smart specialisation. To fuel the KIC, a smart digital open innovation platform should serve at its core to engage the community across the North Sea Region and ensure collaboration, knowledge sharing and idea generation across sectors, professions and borders and in an active, continuous, brokerage way they should bring together: clusters, businesses, knowledge institutes, innovation ecosystems and communities. 

3. To manage the shaping of the workforce transformation in the NSR, a coherent Skills Agenda which gives access to education and labour markets across borders for skilled workers meeting new skills demands is required, including  a platform that marries education with skills required in the Blue Economy.

4. Capitalise on emerging global opportunities and improve the global competitiveness of the NSR by implementing a permanent open innovation platform stimulating cross border innovation partnerships based on Smart Specialization of regions, and promotion of intra-regional trade (with a focus on SMEs). Establish an Open Innovation Platform (OIP) using advanced digital technologies that will deliver value to users, broader stakeholders and the NSR at large. The OIP would enable physical, virtual and social co-creation, prototyping and demonstration. The external ecosystem would be leveraged to increase innovation relevancy. Innovation would be accelerated through a clearly defined and structured process from ideation to commercialisation. There would also be space for disruptive technology (true innovation) with enablers in place. Citizen participation would be encouraged as citizens are equally creative and innovative.

The proceedings may be accessed here.