Regional policies and innovation



Your contact: Mary Van Overbeke
Office: +32 (0)10 45 45 10
Fax: +32 (0)10 45 40 99
ADE «has worked in the regional policies and innovation field since 1998. The Regional Policies and Innovation (RPI) unit specialises in the evaluation of regional policy, innovation support and measures to promote economic development. This work reflects the increased focus in recent years on the role of the knowledge economy and innovation in promoting regional development. The team has specific expertise in EU Cohesion Policy, particularly in the role of the Structural Funds in promoting socio-economic development at the European and regional level including regions with specific geographical features.

Another focus of the RPI unit relates to the processes of regional integration both within the EU as well as in third countries.

The specific areas of activity are:

  • Innovation policies to foster economic growth;
  • EU Cohesion policy and the strengthening of territorial competitiveness especially
    through the use of Structural Funds;
  • Territorial and multi-level governance;
  • Small island economies and other regions with specific geographical features;
  • Regional integration policies and strategies.


  • Strategic regional socio-economic analysis
  • Policy and project development for a range of regional and other intermediary organizations and stakeholders
  • Policy evaluation of projects and programmes
  • Development and definition of evaluation and monitoring tools and indicators
  • Impact assessment and monitoring
  • Training and support to policy practitioners and working groups

Understanding Territorial Competitiveness requires a multidimensional approach.
There are several key factors that directly influence the competitiveness and growth of
particular territories, these include: innovation, the dynamism of SMEs, education and
training, industrial performance and structure, the attractiveness for foreign investment and
accessibility. The challenge is to develop a set of policies that support these factors, in
different areas, in order to enhance territorial competitiveness. A number of European
policies, especially Cohesion Policy and the Structural Funds (ERDF, ESF and EAFRD),
are focused precisely upon improving territorial competitiveness. ADE has particular
expertise in these domains, articulating the linkages between the various components of
competitiveness in order to development strategic overarching regional priorities to achieve
balanced territorial growth.

Innovation policies to promote economic development

Innovation is a core element of the EU's new strategic framework 'Europe 2020', building on the priorities of the Lisbon Agenda. ADE has been active in the field since 1998 notably through the analysis of regional innovation systems and strategies; the analysis of the innovation needs of SMEs; the comparison of regional and national innovation performance; and the evaluation of public policy programs to support innovation.

EU Cohesion Policy and the Structural Funds

ADE has a strong track record in programmes co-financed by the European Structural Funds, especially in the formulation of priorities and the implementation of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Fund for Regional Development (EAFRD). ADE conducts ex-ante, mid-term and ex-post evaluation of Operational Programs at regional, national or European level.

Territorial Governance

Effective territorial governance is crucial to the efficiency of public policy development. This relates to the ways in which the co-operation and co-ordination between different actors, at multiple levels, is organized. Effective governance includes: the development of strategic priorities; the implementation of monitoring and evaluation tools; action planning, coordination and the alignment of different actors and tools.

The analysis of systems of governance is an important transversal theme for ADE, supporting public authorities with the development of the right tools to ensure the effective monitoring and evaluation of public policies.

Small island economies and other regions with specific geographical features

ADE has expertise in regions with specific geographical features including small island economies (ORs, OCTs, SIDs), that face unique challenges particularly in relation to their small size, population density, isolation and high dependence on exports. The RPI unit is involved in various studies to evaluate and define the main socio-economic development policies and issues for these very specific regional economies.

Regional integration policies and strategies

Regional integration, a key development policy for the EU, is now recognized as an important process for less developed countries and emerging economies in order to cope with increased international competition.

The RPI unit has significant experience in advising a range of stakeholders on regional integration policies in developing countries, as well as on the development of effective results-based monitoring and evaluation systems and tools.

Latest publications

Ex post evaluation of ERDF Operational programmes “Convergence” and “Regional Competitiveness and Growth” 2007-2013 in Wallonia (thematic evaluation on urban development)
The thematic evaluation focused on portfolios of projects co-funded by the 2007-2013 ERDF OP for the development of Walloon urban centres. The study identified several areas for deliberation for the next programming period, inter alia: concentrate approaches on the key priorities for growth and employment, use an approach focused on a limited, prioritised number of outcomes, ensure integration of regional and local priorities, adopt an overall strategic vision, taking into account the larger urban zone and other recommendations which details are presented in the final report.
click here to download the report

Ex post evaluation of ERDF Operational programmes “Convergence” and “Regional Competitiveness and Growth” 2007-2013 in Wallonia (thematic evaluation on innovation)
The thematic evaluation on interventions co-funded by the ERDF to develop and exploit Wallonia’s innovation potential found that (i) Wallonia has made an important qualitative step forward compared to the previous 2000-2006 period, but (ii) with some difficulties, limitations and contrasted results. The overall impact on the development of the SME was limited. With view to foster this impact, the study recommended to (i) focus the programme on the needs of a target group of SMEs; (ii) accelerate the knowledge transfer from research centres to businesses and (iii) set up tools to optimise the effectiveness and efficiency of the programme.
click here to download the report

Evaluation of the European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion (ESPON) programme 2007-2013
The "European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion" (ESPON) aims to contribute to understanding of issues relating to spatial development and the spatial impact of policies across Europe, through applied research, targeted analysis, scientific platform and tools, awareness rising and empowerment as well as communication and assistance. The evaluation has (i) underlined the challenge to translate high quality research to policy impact, (ii) identified the administrative burden at project level and (iii) found room of improvement of the overall governance. Detailed policy recommendations were built to tackle these issues.
click here to download the report