Partnerships for Regional Innovation: first pilot plenary meeting

The Partnerships for Regional Innovation – PRI Pilot Action held its first pilot plenary meeting on 7 July 2022. The initiative was launched in June jointly by the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions. The first plenary meeting was an interactive event to generate discussions, dialogue, and co-creation among all PRI Pilot participants. It presented the policy context around PRI, the PRI Playbook and a proposal for a PRI Pilot roadmap, outlining the organization of pilot activities

Bioregions Facility has been selected to participate in the pilot project as a group of regions, consisting of its current regional members: Basque Country; North Rhine-Westphalia; and North Karelia. Representatives of the Facility joined the event, together with more than 150 participants.

The online event, started with the presentation of the New Innovation Agenda for Europe and PRI, highlighting the need of a holistic approach, investment, diffusion, circular economy, and innovation to tackle global challenges such as climate change. The work that PRI does at a regional level was also emphasized, including establishing networks, creating cooperation and consortia in regions working in the same value chain.

A call was made to select a contact person representing each region with an academic or scientific background to act as a scientific track and maintain constant interaction with the directive.

The PRI Playbook

During the event, the PRI Playbook was presented as a guidance document, containing a range of tools and mechanisms to coordinate and enable the exploration of broad-ranging policy mixes for system-level innovation. The playbook will act as an empowering tool for policymakers and should be adapted to European realities, as it will be co-created via joint work and with feedback from the regions.

It contains a Toolbox that gathers 68 tools for diagnosis, policy design and implementation; and three building blocks as an initial approach to be co-developed through the pilot: Open Discovery Process, Policy and Action Mix and the Strategic Policy framework. Three working groups will be working around each building block.

The event ended with a discussion and feedback from pilot participants from the different participant regions, and final remarks from the EU committee.

Michal Miedzinski, economic and policy researcher at JRC said: “This is a collective effort from the bottom, with the best minds we can gather and do a collation of the willing, these are all the ingredients we need to move forward“.

Thomas Wobben, Director at Committee of the Regions gave a strong final message: “We really hope that this collaboration is building on trust, that we are able to have a frank exchange, and that we can help each other”


The Partnerships are rooted in the upcoming Innovation Agenda for Europe to help integrate initiatives and investment at EU and national levels. It is an effort directly targeted to improve Innovation ecosystems as one essential area to boost Europe’s innovation performance. The key objective is to strengthen interconnection of regional and local innovation ecosystems for a green and digital Europe and to improve resilience of European sustainable value chains and deep-tech sectors.

Timber Construction Award @ Solar Decathlon Europe in Wuppertal

The Solar Decathlon Europe 21/22 (SDE 21/22) is the university competition for sustainable building and living in cities. You can now watch the official video that features the Timber Construction Award, awarded June 19th at Solar Decathlon Europe in Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It shows impressively the potential of timber in sustainable building for the future and the potential of reuse of timber structures for the circular bioeconomy.

Timber Construction Award Solar Decathlon 2021 and 2022.

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Bioregions Facility selected for the Pilot Action on Partnership for Regional Innovation

The European Commission announced the 63 regions, seven cities and four Member States selected in the pilot project for Partnerships for Regional Innovation (PRI), an initiative developed together with the Committee of the Regions. Participants in the pilot action are open to share good practices and to co-develop and test tools to mobilise multiple sources of funding and policies, and connect regional and national programmes to EU initiatives for the green and digital transformations. These Partnerships will feed into the new Innovation Agenda for Europe, where innovation drives the transformation for sustainability, connecting local strategies with EU-level initiatives.

The call has attracted a wide representation of the EU innovation ecosystem, ranging from Member States and a broad variety of EU regions to multi-region networks. The Bioregions Facility successfully applied as a group of regions, consisting of its current regional members: Basque Country, North Rhine-Westphalia and North Karelia. The Bioregions Facility, together with 38 other successful applicants, will now start working on activities within the framework of the Pilot Action. Inazio Martinez de Arano, coordinator of the Bioregions Facility, explained “the Pilot Action is very timely to upscale our Facility’s efforts to catalyse innovation in the forest-based bioeconomy of our member regions”.

Pilot Action launch event

The hybrid launch event of the initiative took place on 17 May 2022 in Brussels; the recording is available here. In the opening session, Commissioners Elisa Ferreira (Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms) and Mariya Gabriel (Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth), together with President of the CoR, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, highlighted the importance of the PRI to tackle the innovation divide in the EU and to allow convergent growth of European regions. The message of Mr. Tzitzikostas was strong: “Investing in innovation is not a luxury”.

During the second session, officials of several regions and cities participating in the Pilot Action expressed their commitment to and expectations of the PRI. The third session focused on the implementation priorities and challenges. Kevin Morgan, Scientific Committee Member, closed the third session with: “Top performing cities and regions will innovate anyway. Without our intervention, without our advice. The unique thing about the PRI is that it offers an opportunity for all places to innovate and …. to become the best that they can be.”

Partnerships for Regional Innovation Playbook

The main reference document underpinning the Partnerships for Regional Innovation – PRI Pilot Action is the “Partnerships for Regional Innovation Playbook“, developed by the JRC-European Commission with the support of a Scientific Committee of recognised experts and centred on a selection of practical policy tools. This initial edition showcases proven tools, inspired by leading innovation policy practice across Europe and the world. The term ‘play’ in the title emphasises the need for exploring, experimenting and learning and also for tailored approaches to the unique opportunities and challenges of each territory.

During the Pilot Action, taking place from May 2022 until June 2023, the participants will test these policy tools while co-creating operational guidance. The Playbook and Pilot Action will also promote good practices, facilitate learning through experimentation and support public administrations and the broader ecosystem.


The Partnerships are rooted in the upcoming Innovation Agenda for Europe to help integrate initiatives and investment at EU and national levels. It is an effort directly targeted to improve Innovation ecosystems as one essential area to boost Europe’s innovation performance. The key objective is to strengthen interconnection of regional and local innovation ecosystems for a green and digital Europe and to improve resilience of European sustainable value chains and deep-tech sectors.

EU Mission “Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities” announced

Earlier this year, 377 European cities applied to be one of the 100 cities selected in the frame of the Horizon Europe Mission on climate-neutral and smart cities. Last week the European Commission announced the 112 cities that have been selected. EFI’s Bioregions Facility is pleased to see Vitoria-Gasteiz from Basque Country, and Aachen and Dortmund from North Rhine-Westphalia among selected cities.

The 100 cities come from all 27 Member States, with 12 additional cities coming from countries associated or with the potential of being associated to Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme (2021-2027).  Selected cities will work together to reach climate neutrality by 2030, receiving dedicated support from the Mission Platform, NetZeroCities. The Mission aims to deliver at least 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030, who will act as experimentation and innovation hubs to support all European cities in becoming climate-neutral by 2050.

Assessment of the development of forest-based bioeconomy in European regions

A new open- access paper “Assessment of the Development of Forest-Based Bioeconomy in European Regions” has been published in Sustainability as part of the Special Issue Bioeconomy, Circular Economy and Sustainability. The article was led by NEIKER BRTA, with support of the Bioregions Facility’s secretariat, and is based on interviews with experts from the three founding members who inaugurated the Bioregions Facility in 2020: Basque Country (Spain), North Karelia (Finland) and North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany).

In recent years, the potential of the forest-based bioeconomy to provide competitiveness, differentiation, and sustainability to the European economy has often been claimed. Interestingly, regions, as territorial units with their own political and socioeconomic strategies, have been highlighted as the most suitable targets for the development of the European forest-based bioeconomy.

Barañano et al., using the case method, have evaluated the development of the forest-based bioeconomy in three European regions (i.e., North Karelia, North Rhine-Westphalia and Basque Country), by appraising the status of 10 previously identified key drivers through primary (interviews with experts) and secondary (literature review) sources of information.

In the analysis, North Karelia and the Basque Country obtained the highest and lowest score, respectively, with regard to forest-based bioeconomy development. In any case, for the successful development of the forest-based bioeconomy in a European region, it is essential to accept the unnegotiable, critically, of the long-term sustainability of forest bioresources and production processes, as well as the need to foster the required changes in consumption patterns.

Reference: Barañano, L., Unamunzaga, O., Garbisu, N., Briers, S., Orfanidou, T., Schmid, B., Martínez de Arano, I., Araujo, A., Garbisu, C. Assessment of the Development of Forest-Based Bioeconomy in European Regions. Sustainability. 2022; 14(8):4747.

Image: Jan Vašek via Pixabay

Save Material – Save the Planet

According to the motto “Save Material – Save the Planet”, in 2022, for a period of approximately five months, an innovation programme will explore the better use of existing buildings and its materials.

The municipality of Aachen, in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), and the Faculty of Architecture at RWTH Aachen University are involved. The central task is to identify solutions for better use of resources in the building sector. The question is how the existing building stock can be used and improved, with the following goals:

  • to counteract material scarcity
  • circularity of construction methods
  • avoid construction waste and emissions

Click the button below to see further information and call for this project.

Smart Wood Center OWL

Smart Wood Center OWL – New center of expertise by and for all industry players as well as for the next generation.

The region Ostwestfalen-Lippe (OWL) is already home to a differentiated cluster of the wood industry, furniture industry and the corresponding component supplying industry with a continuous value-added chain from the forest to the end product. The goal of the Smart Wood Center is to increase the use of regional wood through networking, research and development, as well as education and training. Furthermore, it aims to strengthen the competitiveness of member companies and start-ups. The long-term goal is to create a competence center by and for all industry players, as well as for the next generation. It should be a neutral place of cooperation, bringing together education, business, science and public associations.

The Smart Wood Center OWL is open to start-ups, companies and research groups in the forest and wood sector. If you are interested, please contact Prof. Katja Fruehwald.

More information

Timber Construction Award Eifel 2020

Admire modern timber architecture – opening of the touring exhibition for the timber construction award Eifel 2020.

The reinterpretation of traditional construction materials are important impulses for sustainable and climate-friendly construction with the building of modern, multi-storey wooden houses in private and public settings. The ability to combine high-quality architecture, climate protection and regional added value in wooden houses is displayed by the touring exhibition of the timber construction award, Eifel 2020.

Solar Decathlon Europe 2021/22

Solar Decathlon Europe 2021/22, Wuppertal, NRW, Germany: a special prize for university teams – the Timber Construction Award.

As part of the international university competition, Solar Decathlon Europe 2021/22, the Studiengemeinschaft Holzleimbau e.V. and six other organisations are awarding a special prize for innovative living and energy concepts with wood – the ‘Timber Construction Award’.