Home Media News Archive 2012 Scotland to share knowledge in Finland - final conference for UNICREDS project

Scotland to share knowledge in Finland - final conference for UNICREDS project

Issued 12 June 2012


Scottish delegates from the University of the Highlands and Islands will be joining six other European regions in Finland next week for the final working conference of the UNICREDS (University Collaboration in Regional Development Spaces) project. The findings from this conference, and the rest of the three year programme, will be presented at a closing event in Cornwall, UK, in October 2012.

Taking place in the city of Seinäjoki in Finland today  (Tuesday 12 June), the conference will focus on how to achieve excellence in regional research and innovation, in order to drive long-term economic growth. As well as presentations from the various Finnish hosts regarding their experience, there will also be a keynote speech from Marc Botman, Head of Unit at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional Policy. In his speech he will be addressing the issue of ‘smart specialisation’.

Marc Botman explains: "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. These strategies are so important that they are a pre-condition for ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) funding for the period 2014-2020.”

Joe Irvine, UNICREDS Project Manager at the University of the Highlands and Islands considered: “the work in UNICREDS will make a significant empirical contribution to understanding how knowledge creating institutions can contribute to developing regional rural economies. Innovation is vital for business and therefore economic growth and it is one of the few ways that remote and rural areas can protect the living standards of local populations and the viability of remote areas. This project has explored the use of innovation models to translate smart specialisation strategies into competitive development “on the ground”.

Nicolas Wallet, Project Manager for UNICREDS, concludes: “This is our final working conference for the project. Each of the events has looked at a different element under the overarching theme of developing high value, knowledge-based economies in peripheral regions, through universities, business and the public sector working together. The findings and case studies presented at the event will feed into ‘best practice’ recommendations that will be submitted to the European Commission later this year, with the aim of helping other regions facing similar issues.”

The UNICREDS project aims to develop a transferable model for future education and regional development programmes that can be adopted by the European Commission. The €2million project is majority funded by the EU in addition to co- financing from each of the 15 European partners and made possible by the INTERREG IVC programme. All the regions involved with UNICREDS share similar characteristics relative to the rest of their countries, such as distance from major cities, population demographics, and reliance on declining traditional industries.

More information is available at www.unicreds.eu.

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