Vanguard Initiative

New growth through smart specialisation”

Created in 2013, the Vanguard Initiative,, currently brings together 30 European regions wishing to strengthen their industrial collaboration through mobilisation and alignment of resources based on the principles of smart specialisation and interregional cooperation.

The ultimate goal of the Vanguard Initiative is to contribute to industrial renewal in Europe through the development of collaborative projects very close to the market and which emerge as a result of an interregional entrepreneurial discovery process among the different players in the triple helix (companies, technology centres and universities).


This pioneering approach of the Vanguard Initiative has inspired the European Commission to develop Smart Specialisation Platforms in Industrial Modernisation, Energy and Agri-food.


The Vanguard Initiative pursues a political goal and a technical goal. The Basque Delegation to the EU, DDEI and SPRI are taking part in the Initiative’s work groups.


The political goal is to obtain recognition for the important role played by regions in promoting new industry-based growth. To do this, work is taking place to influence European innovation and industrialisation policies so that European support programmes and instruments take into account the specific characteristics of interregional cooperation. One example of this activity is “VI Position paper: Regions and future EU policies for Growth and Investment”, which analyzes the necessary financing solutions and which has been submitted to the European Parliament, several Directorates-General of the European Commission and the EIB.


As regards the technical goal, as a result of the entrepreneurial discovery process among all the member regions of the Vanguard Initiative, 5 pilot projects have been defined:


  • Efficient and Sustainable Manufacturing (led by Lombardy and Catalonia)
  • Advanced Manufacturing for Energy Applications in harsh environments (led by the Basque Country and Scotland)
  • High performance production through 3D printing (led by Flanders and North Brabant)
  • Nanotechnology (New Nano-Enabled products) (led by Tampere and Region Skåne)
  • Bioeconomy: Innovative uses of biomass (led by Lombardy and South-Netherlands)


The Basque Country is taking part in the first two pilot projects. Tecnalia and IK4 are collaborating with SPRI in the “Efficient and Sustainable Manufacturing” pilot project. In the case of the pilot project led jointly by the Basque Country and Scotland, participation takes place through SPRI and the Basque Energy Cluster. The Basque Delegation to the EU supports the work of Basque experts who attend meetings held in Brussels within the framework of these pilot projects.

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