In a first step, a group of 43 participants issued from 4 distinct contracts and partners in the WASTE- CLUSTER, joined for identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). The first SWOT training of all partners has taken place in January 2010 during their first joint meeting in Morocco. The partners will come up by June 2010 with conclusions delivering input for their region's strategic orientation in the field/sector. The regional strategies will then be used to complement the EU-wide strategy as a tool for exploration and dialogue between the clustered projects and will finally deliver a positive contribution to the objective of bringing EU waste and water treatment expertise and the expertise in the textile and clothing sector together in the ERA.
Strategic orientation rounds (SOR) are foreseen around summer 2010 in each of the projects with the goal of enabling each of the regions to express their strategic orientation at European level in order to better grasp regional communalities and differences. This contributes to the final objective of fostering mutual learning and cooperation between EU-MPC waste-related research projects. A further goal is to support each of the projects in underpinning their activities by an explicit strategic vision on the development of their region in the field, making efforts to support their willingness to submit further proposals under FP7 and/or other activities of the EU. SORs might reveal that broadening the resource base of regional RTD infrastructure is vital for innovation in the EU-MPC regions. In particular the extent of financial resources and knowledge resources could be identified as main challenges, revealing the pivotal role of regional policy, not only in the EU, but also in the MPCs.
Many regions, not only in Europe but also in the MPCs, place their hopes on EU funding because regional or national instruments are not sufficient, or even sometimes fail. However, regional policy with the funding instruments from SF, ERDF and ESF, or in the case of the MPCs, funding instruments such as the ENPI and/or the Horizon 2020 initiative is also perceived as a crucial element in bringing these funds closer to the regional actors as well as to the scientists at stake. This demonstrates that regional policy initiatives and European funding should go hand in hand, irrespective if EU or MPCs.
Regional/National policy makers should contribute with their understanding of local dynamics and their own communication channels. Europe, in turn, contributes with funding instruments for companies and RTD centres to develop research areas of strategic but mutual interest.