ACTIONbook. Innovation for place-based transformations

#43, March 2024

Joint Research Centre - Seville

European Commission

In January 2024, the Joint Research Centre and the European Committee of the Regions jointly published ‘Innovation for place-based transformations. ACTIONbook, practices and tools’.

This report is a comprehensive hands-on resource set to empower local, regional and national stakeholders across Europe to drive societal well-being and climate-resilient development through strategic partnerships and purpose-driven actions. It thus aims to accompany cities, regions and Member States in advancing placed-based transformations towards fair green and digital transitions. 

‘Innovation for place-based transformations. ACTIONbook, practices and tools’ is a result of collaborative efforts with stakeholders involved in the Partnerships for Regional Innovation pilot initiative ended in May 2023. It builds on the ‘Partnerships for Regional Innovation Playbook’ published in 2022 and takes stock of the exchanges and lessons accrued during the Pilot (May 2022 – May 2023). Exchanges highlighted as important for a place-based transformations include, for example, interterritorial collaboration, multi-level governance and coordinated policy action at local, regional, and national levels. Other aspects emerged from the interaction with participants consist of focusing on meaningful involvement of stakeholders, including individuals, businesses, knowledge institutions, and local authorities, in policy efforts aimed at transformative and system-level innovation. 

Innovation for place-based transformations. ACTIONbook, practices and tools’ consists of three documents: the ACTIONbook, a collection of practices, and a set of tools. They provide together a concise overview of activities for transformative innovation, examples on how some territories have embedded such activities in their practices and the tools that can be used for the activities in the ACTIONbook. 

Starting with the ACTIONbook, it describes six dimensions or chapters. Each chapter is divided into activities, for a total of 27 operational activities. Both chapters and activities are modular: depending on a goal, some activities can be prioritised, initiated, left aside and they do not follow a specific, or sequential, order.  The figure below shows the dimensions and activities in the ACTIONbook.

It adopts an intuitive design to map on every activity the competences needed to perform such activities (proposed by the EU Competence Framework on innovative policymaking), practices from territories, tools to put them in place, and some additional resources to go deeper into a topic.

Then, inspiring others is a key element of this new report. For this, we collected 32 practices from European cities, regions and Member States, linked to transformative innovation that could stimulate stakeholders to craft their way into raising ambition, building capacities, and taking transformative action (see figure below). Each practice provides a short summary on what resources territories used, with whom they partnered with, and their lessons learnt. They either involve partnerships across departments or across territories and engage a broad of stakeholders.

The practice Andalusia has shared is an example of the importance of interterritorial cooperation contributing to advance on regional smart specialisation's priorities. One of the S4 Andalusia prioirities is Agrotechnology and working on Regions4Food project and the S3Platform for Traceability and Big data, led by Andalusian Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.    

Finally, the tools for ACTION contain a series of tools for transformative innovation categorised by type  (concept, methodology, EU policy initiative and example) and by level of applicability (local, regional, national, European or all). Each of them is linked to an activity.

Summarising and concluding, the aim of this tripartite document is to provide a user-centred and operational approach to transformative innovation. We included questions for self-reflection and to feed discussions, always focusing on providing users resources to address them, in partnerships: across departments, levels and territories.