Eurada News nº398 - March 2020

Happy Birthday Foro ADR!

The Spanish Association of Regional Development Agencies is already 20 years old. During the official celebration, our sister association, Foro ADR, has discussed the main challenges for RDAs. The main topics for future work of the Spanish RDAs are talent, enterprises and territory.

Talent was the main aspect discussed during the official celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Spanish Association of Regional Development Agencies (Foro ADR), the biggest knowledge transfer association in Spain. The Agencies discussed measures to attract and retain talent following a previous analysis done by the COTEC Foundation and IVIE of the Spanish regional map. The map shows a clear division between north and south, with more talent attractiveness for those five regions (Asturias, Catalonia, Madrid, Basque Country and Navarra) with more industrial relevance. 

The regions were measured by the COTEC Foundation and IVIE using the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) developed by INSEAD Paris. This annual benchmarking study analyses 125 countries and is useful for measuring the dimension of human capital and its connection to competitiveness. The index is composed of several objective variables grouped into 6 categories: talent enablersattractiongrowth, and retention, as well as output in terms of both vocational and global knowledge skills. The five best-classified countries for talent attraction are Switzerland, the United States, Singapore, Sweden, and Denmark. Almost all European countries are among the 50 best performers. 

Support for enterprises was another important aspect highlighted during the official  Foro ADR 20th anniversary celebration. Enterprises are at the heart of the challenges faced by our societies and can provide solutions. Industrial policy should go beyond taxes. It is necessary to improve fiscal policy in order to support our welfare state. However, industry is behind the creation of better employment, as shown in the regional disparities across Spain on the map of talent attraction. 

The creation of companies and their strengthening may be the solution needed to avoid depopulation in certain territories. It is necessary to attract investments in order to improve the industrial productive capacity in a particular territory. For that purpose, the smooth cooperation between public administration and private organisations is vital, aligning the activity to solve current societal challenges. Spanish RDAs agreed that it is important to help companies to scale up; in Spain there is still a strong atomisation of companies. It is necessary to facilitate companies in their growth and expansion of capacity. This will create better quality jobs and allow more capacity to implement sustainable activities in future. 

Dr. Cristina Garmendia, President of the COTEC Foundation, proposed to Regional Development Agencies to join the regulatorysandbox experimentation principles. The sandbox system consists of creating safe spaces for experimentation with innovations and new technologies. Thus, regulators establish a set of rules for natural and legal persons that seek to test products and business models with innovative components. 

France, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Singapore are examples of countries that have designed sandbox systems as a means to attract companies and talent while reducing the regulatory frictions that innovation and technology encounter in a variety of sectors. The purpose is to overcome regulatory rigidity and barriers. These sandboxes are safe spaces which allow for flexibility because they are not subject to specific legislative frameworks. They do, however, exercise close surveillance and allow only a limited period for experimentation. In this way, sandboxes minimise legal uncertainty for innovations, allow evaluation of their practical and real applications, and help improve access to investment, validating business models. As a conclusion, a sandbox is a testing tool for public policies that facilitates modernising the regulatory context with many applications for industries and enterprises. 

Spanish Regional Development Agencies are dynamic entities that lead hybrid activities of learning and technology transfer. The Agencies are close to companies and provide continuous support on finance, innovation, and internationalisation. Foro ADR gathers Agencies from all 17 Spanish regions and the two autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Overall, they have a staff of more than 2,000 employees. In 2018 they supported over 77,000 companies with 90,000 projects and leveraged private investment of more than €350 million. 

More information:

  • ForoADR. Website of the spanish association of regional development agencies.
  • GTCI Global Talent Competitiveness Index developed by INSEAD
  • COTEC (In Spanish), the Spanish Foundation for Technology Development

Written by Esteban Pelayo, Director of EURADA.