Regional Operational Programme (ERDF ROP) 2014-2020
The Lombardy Region’s 2014-2020 Regional Operational Programme (ROP) under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) provides investment funds of nearly one billion euros (€970,474,516) with the priority objectives of the Region’s economic growth and social development as well as the enhancement of its productive capabilities.
The ERDF ROP promotes a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth model in line with the objectives identified in the “Europe 2020” strategy and with the regional government’s development policies promoting the productivity and competitiveness of its businesses and the entire economy of the Region.
Building the Programme: stages and participants
Setting its own sights on the Europe 2020 strategy targets, the ERDF ROP has added further reinforcements to its overall strategy for intervention; this has also involved breaking with the past in some areas in order to improve the capacity of Lombardy businesses as a whole to tackle the challenges and exploit the opportunities of international markets. The ROP strategy of targets, results and measures has been put together bearing in mind the policy guidelines for 2014-2020 at European and national level (viz, in addition to the Europe 2020 strategy, the Common Strategic Framework for Cohesion Policy, the European Commission services’ Position Paper for Italy, the Partnership Agreement for Italy 2014 and Italy’s own National Reform Programme) and the main regional needs as revealed by analysis and assessment of the situation and also through continuous dialogue with employers’ and workers’ organizations, local government and public bodies, and the key players within the region. This makes it possible to respond to the real requirements of Lombardy’s social and economic situation by correctly interpreting both the opportunities and the weaknesses of the local economy, and to point the way to putting the Region back on track for growth: boosting the system’s productivity and competitiveness.
Main challenges to be tackled
The ERDF ROP strategy supports a model of growth which emphasizes research and innovation (not least through the spread of new technology), and promotes an intelligent use of the Region’s resources and a balanced management of its natural and cultural heritage. The vision of development adopted in the ERDF ROP also entails the deployment of measures to prevent social exclusion of the economically, socially or culturally weaker groups within the population, for instance by implementing various forms of support to promote inclusion in the matter of housing.
The ERDF ROP strategy lays emphasis on the construction of an ecosystem of innovation, in which continually sustained innovation is part of the very fabric of the economy, in keeping with the European flagship initiative entitled “The Innovation Union”.
Action under the ERDF ROP accordingly has the following aims:
to encourage innovation among MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises), partly by making truly high-quality services available throughout the Region’s economy and partly through various forms of “temporary management” such as business mentorship and technical advice
to encourage co-operative R&D activities by supporting complex projects of considerable size designed to build capacity in Lombardy’s RD&I operators (Research, Development & Innovation)
to foster networking and synergies both among businesses and between them and research institutions
to promote public-sector commissioning of research, development and innovation so as to make such services more sustainable, and to get the best value for taxpayers’ money by means of public tenders at the pre-commercial stage
These interventions to promote RD&I, especially in manufacturing, form part of the exclusive strategic scope of the “Regional Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation” (RIS3), based on choosing priorities related to areas of application which have significant potential for returns in technological and industrial terms. The Lombardy Region’s Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) identifies areas of specialization around which the available resources should be concentrated; these are translated into a number of work Programmes which specify subject areas for particular invitations to tender under the ROP.
Another factor in the ERDF ROP favouring smart growth is support for the competitiveness of Lombardy’s individual businesses and its whole enterprise economy so as to satisfy that economy’s real requirements and attain the goals of the European flagship initiative entitled “An Integrated Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era”.
The Programme’s strategy is in keeping with the priorities identified in the Strategic Document for the Lombardy Region’s Industrial Policies 2013-2018, which are also the guiding principles of Regional Law No. 11/2014 designed to boost competitiveness and develop a business-friendly environment in line with the recommendations of the Small Business Act for Europe.
Here action under the ERDF ROP has the following aims:
to promote the start-up and growth of new businesses, the reactivation of existing ones and the development of new patterns of business activity, especially as regards culture, tourism and commerce as lines of business
to promote companies’ international expansion (into export business) and increase the Region’s attractiveness
to direct foreign investment to improve access to credit, supporting a revival of the selective accumulation of productive capital in the Region’s production circuits and relieving the shortage of credit by developing new ways of enabling businesses to grow
One of the ways in which the ROP supports the competitiveness of Lombardy enterprises is through the availability of and access to adequate ICT. This is an essential ingredient of smart growth and a fundamental precondition for “smartening” any policy for local specialization: for the overall context is such that national and regional economies cannot avoid facing intense competition from international players in the global market.
Reducing the digital divide and rolling out widespread superfast broadband connectivity, especially among businesses, are further elements on which the ERDF ROP’s actions concentrate so as to strengthen the Region’s competitiveness and attractiveness in accordance with the Digital Agenda for Lombardy 2014-2018 whose objectives are in line with those of the European Digital Agenda and the “Innovation Union” flagship initiative. This will also have a positive impact on the efficiency of public administration and on people’s quality of life.
The ERDF ROP strategy lays emphasis on building an economy which uses resources efficiently, guides the development of new technologies and processes, and underpins Lombardy companies’ competitive advantages by making use of EU-wide networks, in line with the flagship initiative entitled “A resource-efficient Europe”.
With this in mind, and in keeping with the provisions of the Regional Plan for Energy and the Environment (PEAR) and the Regional Plan of Action on Air Quality (PRIA), measures to be taken under the ERDF ROP have the following aims:
to reduce the energy consumed in public buildings and by public lighting
to promote sustainable transport in urban and metropolitan areasERDF
The ROP also aims to identify requirements for skilled and qualified workers, and to support the reform of vocational qualifications so that they are better adapted to changes in the labour market, bringing improved employment prospects through the creation of new jobs in “green economy” industries.
Another practical manifestation of the ERDF ROP strategy is urban policy experimentation with a view to sustainable and inclusive development, through interventions in housing supply and demand guided essentially by the concept of social inclusion.
This takes the form of integrated projects for the rehabilitation of predominantly council-house estates by combining action on infrastructure (rehabilitation of the residential buildings, improving energy efficiency, etc.) with intangible investments such as support for disadvantaged people, cultural mediators, etc.
The ROP also contributes to inclusive development in its interventions for “Hinterland Areas” which feature an large-scale approach to local development. “Hinterland Areas” are districts characterized by geographical isolation, demographic decline and poor levels of essential citizen services. Intervention in these districts takes the form of coordinating ordinary policies (for transport, education and health) with funds from the 2014-2020 Community Plans earmarked for development policies to promote growth by making the most of local resources (cultural assets, tourist attractions, natural resources, etc.).
In support of policy localization, moreover, the ROP aims to prioritize implementation of the Alpine Super-Regional Strategy and the Italy-Switzerland Cross-border Co-operation Programme.
The ROP will implement its strategy for the Region’s development by promoting, among other things, complex multidisciplinary investment projects which make the most of its local resources (its human capital, its infrastructure endowment, its equipment and instrumentation which are advanced and competitive even by international standards, the strategic positioning of the innovation ecosystem, etc.), which put these advantages together for synergistic amplification and see to it that the Region’s well-educated workforce is duly involved and properly linked up within high-tech clusters at regional and national level.
A Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) for the Region
In keeping with the EU policy guidelines which identify innovation and research as the pillars of smart growth, the Lombardy Region has drawn up its own regional S3 for research and innovation, arranged on the basis of priorities connected with promising and challenging areas of application. These are known as the Region’s “Areas of Specialization” (AdS), and there are seven: Aerospace, Agro-food, Eco-industry, Healthcare, the creative and cultural industries, Advanced Manufacturing and Sustainable Transport; alongside these there is an additional one, Smart Cities & Communities, a basic driver for the aggregation of skills which belong to more than one AdS. Research and Innovation Work Programmes for each AdS for the two-year period 2014-2015, together with their Smart Cities & Communities implications across the board, have been drawn up to implement the S3: this is a further step along the road map of this complex governance intervention for maximizing the synergy between initiatives and making the most of the strategic sectors and priorities for boosting the Region’s competitiveness. The Work Programmes identify individual topics and broad topic areas for each AdS to give a better breakdown of R&D routes with the greatest impact on the Lombardy Region’s industry, its social development and the expansion of its human capital. At the end of the two-year period the initiatives and their initial results will be analysed to help draw up the Work Programmes for the following two years, so as to ensure that the regional government’s actions have an increasingly powerful impact.
Structure of the 2014-2020 ERDF ROP
The strategic articulation of the ERDF ROP concentrates on seven main mutually consistent and integrated priority axes. Each of these has one or more specific targets (STs), with the outcomes expected for each ST, and the actions to be co-financed by the Programme are related to these STs. The degree to which the specific targets are attained and the corresponding actions implemented is measured using a set of output and result indicators.
Structure of the 2014-2020 ERDF ROP 07 Priority axes 14 Specific Targets(STs) 30 Actions 80 Output & Result Indicators STs set out the aims of the intervention (the result expected) Actions are the means by which the STs are to be attained Indicators are instruments for measuring progress on the policy
The 2014-2020 ERDF ROP: Financial Plan Priority axis I Strengthen technological research, development and innovation 36.00% € 349,355,000 Priority axis II Improve access to information and communication technology (ICT), and the uptake and quality of local ICT 2.06% € 20,000,000 Priority axis III Promote SME competitiveness 30.36% € 294,645,000 Priority axis IV Support the transition to a low-carbon economy in all sectors 20.05% € 194,600,000 Priority axis V Sustainable Urban Development 6.18% € 60,000,000 Priority axis VI Tourism Strategy for Hinterland Areas 1.96% € 19,000,000 Priority axis VII Technical support 3.39% € 32,874,516
The Programme has allocated funds of € 970,474,516 in total, 50% from the ERDF and 50% co-financed (35% by the Italian government and 15% by the Lombardy regional government).