Linz, Oberösterreich (A), 28 October 2008
Does a more decentralised state foster innovation and, ultimately, economic prosperity? The preliminary findings of a study commissioned by the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and conducted by BAK Basel Economics suggest that it does.
"The study has already uncovered trends suggesting that more autonomous regions enjoy higher levels of research and development, university output, registered patents and economic productivity," AER Secretary-General Klaus Klipp said today. "Although the study is still ongoing, I´m confident that the final results will prove what AER has maintained for many years, and that is that strong regions create strong economies and better living standards for citizens."
The AER / BAK Basel study is exploring the potential link between regional autonomy and economic prosperity – in other words, are regions within the more decentralised states such as Switzerland and Germany more prosperous as a result of their autonomy than their counterparts in centralised states such as Greece and France? Regions from 30 countries spanning the wider Europe have provided extensive data for the study, forming the basis of a final report to be released by AER early next year.
The preliminary findings of the study were presented at an AER conference, "Innovation, creativity and diversity – The regional dimension of European economic excellence", which concluded today in Linz, Upper Austria (the region was awarded third prize in AER´s 2007 Innovation Award). The conference was part of the Autumn plenary session of AER´s Committee (1) for Economy and Regional Development, gathering around 80 regional authorities and stakeholder organisations from across Europe.
Left to right: Landesrat Viktor Sigl , Landeshauptmann Dr. Josef Püringer , Håkan Sandgren (Vice-President of AER Committee 1) and Klaus Klipp (AER Secretary General)
One of the many innovation experts taking part in the conference was 'Innogroup' founder Peter Heydebreck, from AER member region Baden-Württemberg (D). "Europe´s competitiveness very much depends upon the competitiveness of its regions. It is at a regional level that innovation is initiated and where mutual understanding of private and public players is best ensured."
That mutual understanding among regional stakeholders – both public and private – was apparent throughout AER´s innovation conference. A full de-brief, including speakers´ presentation papers, background documents and photos, will be available this week on AER´s website: www.aer.eu.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 270 regions from 33 countries and 13 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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