State of play - Economic vitality
KRA Economic Vitality of European Metropolitan Areas
Towards a Smart Specialisation Strategy
It’s not the economy but the city, stupid! Metropolitan areas and cities are fundamental players in the national, European and international economic arenas, as highlighted by the current economic recession and its impact on European cities (high levels of unemployment, urban deprived areas, empty retail spaces, etc). But cities are also the ideal hubs where knowledge and creativity can be translated into the innovative products, services and production processes. This Knowledge and Research Agenda Economic Vitality presents a first step in helping European cities define long-term, effective and efficient regional economic innovation strategies. These can then be used as stepping stones towards a fully-fledged Smart Specialisation Strategy for cities and metropolitan areas.
Role of knowledge & innovation capacity
Economic strength, productivity and competitiveness are the products of the efficient creation and dissemination of innovative knowledge. However, in practice, cities find it hard to formulate their role in the process of knowledge valorisation and how they can promote and benefit from the multiplier effects that education can bring about in the region. How can cities formulate a realistic regional economic strategy leading to clear economic results (such as profit, jobs, export, R&D&I)? In order to strengthen the innovation capacity of regions and cities, the European Commission is encouraging them to define a ‘Smart Specialisation Strategy’ (S³) to promote an efficient, effective and synergetic use of public investments and support. By analysing a region’s assets and its existing cooperation strategies with partners, a Smart Specialisation Strategy can help avoid unnecessary duplication, fragmentation of efforts and oversupply. Furthermore, it will help identify potential partners for new cooperation structures.
The EMI approach: research-based, practice-led
EMI has created a Knowledge and Research Agenda (KRA) on Economic Vitality based on its guiding principle ‘research-based, practice-led’ including results and experiences from both academic research and urban practice. Extensive desk research as well as many consultations with urban practitioners, researchers and other experts has led to a focus on four themes: (1) knowledge and innovation (2) entrepreneurial economy (3) labour market and (4) transforming economy. In the KRA, current challenges pertaining to these themes are discussed, resulting in the definition of research questions which are considered to be important both from a practical and a scientific point of view. Four in-depth case studies (Munich-Germany, Poznan-Poland, Madrid-Spain and Bucharest-Romania) highlight and illustrate the current reality in European cities along the four themes. A SWOT-analysis concludes each of the case studies, defining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of these cities.
The resulting Knowledge and Research Agenda Economic Vitality
Results of the KRA on Economic Vitality give valuable input so that cities and regions can better define their individual Smart Specialization Strategies and translate policy into actual jobs and (economic) growth. The KRA looks at, for example, the degree of entrepreneurial activity as one of the main determinants for the level of competitiveness in cities and metropolitan areas. This includes the essential role small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play in the local and regional economy. A crucial question in this regard is howcities can actually develop theright conditions for economic activities in order to create a diverse, robust and competitive entrepreneurial economy. What are the (dis)advantages of being economically specialized or diversified? The EMI Knowledge and Research Agenda on Economic Vitality is intended to inspire and encourage cities and metropolitan areas across Europe to re-examine and consequently strengthen their regional economies against the backdrop of the (current) economic reality.