Intensified efforts to become a region of knowledge
At their recent semi-annual summit in the southern Moravian city Brno, the governors, presidents and mayors of the Centrope regions and cities agreed to intensify efforts to establish a transnational infrastructure for an integrated “knowledge region” and to intensify cooperation.
Centrope is not only a region, it is above all a vision – a vision that is gradually becoming more concrete. The political players are firmly committed to achieving this goal. On 21 May 2012 the governors, presidents and mayors of the Centrope regions and cities gathered at the Centrope Summit 03 to deliberate on future joint measures. The semi-annual political summit held in the morning was followed by two panel discussions on the Centrope Knowledge Region in the afternoon, in which renowned personalities participated.
Häupl: transforming Centrope into a region of knowledgeIn line with this mandate, both parts of the Centrope meeting focused on the development of cross-border cooperation, especially in the tertiary sector of education. According to the joint statement presented by the summit participants after the morning session, there was no doubt that cooperation at university level was vital for Centrope. Vienna’s mayor Michael Häupl stressed in his Centrope summit conclusions: “Economic systems of high quality are developing along the transport routes, therefore we want to upgrade and expand transnational roads, rail networks and airports. Science, research, technology and innovation are the basis for promoting our economic development. The step from economic development towards a knowledge-based society is an absolute must, especially against the background of the difficult financial situation."
Agreement on core prioritiesThe participants in the Brno summit fully agreed on their agenda and unanimously adopted a comprehensive strategy paper defining core priorities for the future. Only the Hungarian delegation had reservations as it considered itself unable to assume any budgetary obligations going beyond the current year. The top priorities of the Centrope Board for the next few years are as follows:
Upgrading and expanding the transport infrastructure, notably rail and road networks as well as waterways. The aim is to boost efficiency and to facilitate the establishment of adequate EU funding programmes strengthening the further development of Centrope.
Global public awareness of research cooperation within the Centrope Knowledge Region will be raised by launching pilot projects. The great potential of Centrope boasting a high concentration of universities, universities of applied sciences as well as other research and innovation facilities is not yet sufficiently known at international level. The pilot projects will help to change this and will make promising students and investors aware of Centrope’s importance as a top-level knowledge base. In this way, Centrope will be enabled to establish itself as an innovation leader among global competitors on a long-term basis.
Highlighting (the vision) of Centrope as a model for the future of the European Union. This goal is based on cooperation in the framework of the Centrope Capacity project, which was started ten years ago. Thanks to this project, “cooperation structures were developed at all important levels of regional and administrative governance”, as the Centrope summit press release informed. At the end of the project in 2013 it will be possible to strategically readjust collaboration based on the experience gathered as well as to define clear perspectives for future cooperation that are in line with the programmatic priorities adopted. These objectives are vital, especially with regard to the EU funding required to implement them. In simplified terms this means: the clearer the goal and the better cooperation to achieve it, the greater is the likelihood to raise the necessary funds.
Together Centrope knows more“Basic research is the main driving force behind the development of regions.” This statement made by Petr Fiala, vice-rector of the Masaryk University of Brno, in his introductory speech provides an adequate explanation why the research facilities of the Centrope region have to cooperate considerably more intensively than in the past. University representatives from the entire Centrope region participated in the two panel discussions which focused on existing difficulties occasionally hampering cooperation as well as on measures considered useful and necessary to make Centrope de facto one of the best-integrated knowledge regions. The topics discussed ranged from the attractiveness of individual universities to the comprehensive organisational efforts that are required to pave the way for cross-border cooperation.
Cooperation between universities and companiesThe wish list of the competent stakeholders covers a wide range of topics such as a more professional approach of universities to presenting their research activities or services, special funding programmes supporting cooperation as well as the establishment of institutions responsible for organising multilateral cooperation activities to ensure that not every university will have “to reinvent the wheel”.
The discussions were summed up very well in the statement: “The decisive question Centrope should ask itself in this context is: why? Why should investors, highly talented students and contract-awarding enterprises wish to use the services of the university community of Centrope? Only if this question can be answered with a convincing argument will success be certain.“
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