It is recognised that innovation is a main driver of economic growth in the EU. The European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) will contribute substantially to reaching the EU’s smart growth objectives by investments in research, development and innovation (RDI), both in the public and private sector.
All Member States plan to invest ESIF in RDI projects aiming to contribute substantially to improving innovation systems and capacities and enhance industrial competitiveness. These investments need to be compatible with the internal market rules and not distort competition in the internal market. However, state aid issues are frequently raised by the managing authorities as a problem for the conception of their RDI support schemes, not only regarding research infrastructures, but also regarding innovation support services and facilities and the support of RDI activities (for instance in the context of the “Seal of Excellence” initiative).
Against this background, the European Commission has taken the initiative to assist colleagues from national authorities on state aid issues when preparing ESIF-supported RDI programmes and projects. As a practical contribution, the European Commission services (DG Regional and Urban Policy and DG Competition) organised a workshop on State Aid for Research, Development and Innovation on 27 January 2016 in Brussels. The purpose of the workshop was to provide concrete and practical examples on how to deal with state aid for RDI to practitioners involved in management of the European Structural Investment Funds. The workshop was planned to be interactive and hands-on, dealing with concrete cases and exchanging good practices and lessons learnt in order to provide pragmatic ideas and solutions.
For this first thematic seminar, a limited number of participants were invited, consisting of specialists nominated by Member States (max. 2 per Member State) with experience of RDI projects and state aid. Depending on the feedback and interest from Member States, further seminars of a similar kind were to be arranged.
More info, seminar materials: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index.cfm/en/conferences/state-aid/rdi/