European project UPRIS
Foresight to strengthen a regional innovation strategy of the Lower Silesia region in Poland
In October 2005, the UPRIS project “Upgrading Lower Silesia – From Regional Innovation Strategy towards Operating System” started as one of 33 projects being supported in the second round of RIS funding by the EU (FP6). The underlying question, which led to the establishment of UPRIS, was how to make the existing regional innovation strategy (RIS) of Lower Silesia more sustainable, applicable and suitable for guiding decision-makers. To approach this goal, regional foresight was regarded as the most appropriate means. By applying foresight, UPRIS aimed to
- promote long-term, visionary thinking in Lower Silesia,
- raise awareness of problems and challenges in the region,
- supplement RIS with a broader societal scope and long-term focus provided by foresight,
- build consensus around the common vision for Lower Silesia,
- consider options for facing future challenges,
- and secure institutional and stakeholder support for the implementation of RIS and foresight results.
The UPRIS foresight process was conceptually prepared by the Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum, which also supported and guided the partners throughout its execution in Lower Silesia. It was designed as a participative process involving panels of experts and regional stakeholders, which were to deliberate future challenges facing Lower Silesia and possible options for meeting them. Especially regional decision-makers were encouraged to get involved in the process and the outcomes are supposed to be directly used by them, e.g. to develop and evaluate projects to be funded under the 2007-2013 Structural Funds.
During the foresight process, three issues of main importance for the future of the region were identified and discussed on the panels, which led to the construction of scenarios on Lower Silesia in the year 2020. The topics selected were: Wroclaw as a metropolitan area (future role of the regional capital in driving the development of the whole region), Knowledge-based economy (development of human and social capital as well as strengthening linkages between science and business) and Infrastructures (focusing on creating appropriate conditions for innovation: work of business support institutions, transportation and use of information and communication technologies).
Based on the scenarios, a RIS action plan proposing a set of pilot actions to be funded in the region, and a plan for trans-regional cooperation of Lower Silesia with other European regions were developed to ‘concretise’ the RIS and to pave the way for the subsequent implementation of foresight results. Both action plans proposed concrete measures in the field of RTD, innovation infrastructure, support for start-ups and for the development of clusters as well as pointed out different funding schemes that could be utilised to finance projects. To enhance capacity building in those fields, additional activities such as workshops for SMEs, women entrepreneurs and cluster actors were organised, and studies performed of available financial instruments, programmes, and innovation services in the region.