Europe has always been a step ahead regarding sustainable transport modes in comparison with the rest of the world and Europe has developed valuable expertise and innovation in the railway sector. That is why railways are identified in many RIS3. However, due to fierce competition in particular from emerging industries, the whole sector and especially SMEs are facing big challenges regarding their competitiveness (price-based vs. innovation-based competitiveness). To tackle this challenge, regions with the help of the EC, put efforts to encourage R&I joint activities (triple helix concept) by offering innovation delivery support in the ERDF OP (direct funding, cluster policy etc.). Other initiatives have been launched towards the railway sector but it has been pointed out that SMEs have specific issues due to the way public transport works, the specificities of its value chain, and its market structure (few big companies with thousands of SMEs, few profit margin, low innovation culture, etc.).
Taking this into consideration, the RECORD project aimed at helping SMEs to invest more and better in innovation activities by redesigning the regional policy instruments.
To do so, individual work was compared with partnering regions and analysed. Benchmark and brainstorming sessions with local stakeholders helped draw out proven and oriented conclusions and develop new approaches together. To have comparability and to be able to share experiences and learn from each other, it was key to admit regional policy structure, industrial environment, and clusters differences. Stakeholdersengagement in this project was very important as it will be the first time managing authorities, clusters, businesses, universities, other funding organizations, regions etc. who are working together early in the political process in the railway sector. This lends credibility and builds solid foundation to develop a framework that will be accepted for implementation.
In terms of activities, the project has organised a total of nine policy learning events.