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Top Technology Region/ Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen Triangle (TTR-ELAt) (Netherlands-Belgium-Germany)

The TTR-ELAt is an initiative to support cross-border collaboration in a densely populated network of small and medium-sized cities located at the heart of western Europe with an economic output of USD 244 billion. The collaboration spans three countries, four science and technology policy regimes and six sub-regions. The collaboration centres on a shared recognition of technological strengths (chemicals and advanced materials, high-tech systems and health sciences). The area seeks to better capitalise on its skilled workforce, multinational enterprises and strong research facilities. While building on decades of cross-border activities, the TTR-ELAt seeks to overcome cumbersome governance issues to create the benefits of agglomeration with complementarity expertise so as to increase international attractiveness.

This chapter is an excerpt of Nauwelaers, C., K. Maguire and G. Ajmone Marsan (2013), “The case of the Top Technology Region/Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen Triangle (TTR-ELAt) - Regions and Innovation: Collaborating Across Borders”, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, No. 2013/22, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.ore/10.1787/10.1787/5k3xv0lg3hf5-en.

Introduction

The TTR-ELAt (Top Technology Region/Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen Triangle) gathers six regions located at the intersection of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium (Figure 9.1). The area in which the TTR-ELAt is located has a long history of cross-border policy efforts. Such collaboration began in the 1970s with project-based co-operation among the cross-border regions of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine (an area that covers a large part of the TTR-ELAt area) and the Euregio Rhine-Meuse-North (EMRN). These activities provided a test bed for experimenting with cross-border collaboration. The TTR-ELAt was launched in 2009 as the merger of two initiatives, the TTR and the ELAt. The TTR (Top Technology Region) was first established in 2004 in recognition of the role of the Southeast Netherlands in its national context for technology-led growth, and subsequently enlarged through collaboration with the neighbouring regions. The ELAt (Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen Triangle) was an initiative of the mayors from the three cities that also began 2004, which was soon joined by several local and regional actors, notably universities, located in the “triangle” area. The large number of co-operation projects in the cross-border area has helped to define the combined TTR-ELAt as the most relevant cross-border functional definition for technology and innovation policy support.

Figure 9.1. Top Technology Region/Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen Triangle (TTR-ELAt)

Note: This document and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries.

Source: TTR-ELAt (2013), “Background report to OECD study cross-border regional innovation policies”, March.

Table 9.1. Size of the TTR-ELAt area

Variable

TTR-ELAt

total

Limburg

Province

(BEL)

Leuven Arr. (BEL)

Liege

Province

(BEL)

Central Lower Rhine Region (DEU)

Aachen Region (DEU)

Mid and East North Brabant (NLD)

Limburg

Province

(NLD)

Surface (km2)

19 640

2 422

1 163

3 862

2 680

3 525

3 779

2 209

Population (2011)

8 193 814

844 621

487 502

1 077 203

1 544 579

1 279 324

1 837 958

1 122 627

Population density (inhabitants/km2) (2011)

417

349

419

279

576

363

486

508

Note: The shaded column is a region that is not actively involved in the TTR-ELAt policy efforts.

Source: TTR-ELAt (2013), “Background report to OECD study cross-border regional innovation policies”, March using data sources from Eurostat, November 2012.

Table 9.2. Key economic indicators: The TTR-ELAt and its regions

TTR-ELAt- NUTS 2

Limburg

Province

(BEL)

Flemish Brabant Province (incl. Leuven) (BEL)

Liege

Province

(BEL)

Cologne region, (incl. Aachen) (DEU)

Dusseldorf region (incl. Central Lower Rhine) (DEU)

North

Brabant

Province

(NLD)

Limburg

Province

(NLD)

GDP (millions EUR)

340 501

22 417

35 938

25 373

133 236

179 340

87 671

35 866

GDP per capita

31 163

26 734

33 371

23 764

30 376

n.a.

36 011

31 949

Long-term unemployment (%)

2.3

1.5

1.7

5.6

3.1

3.4

0.7

1.3

Economic activity rate aged 25-64 (%)

n.a.

73.9

79.5

72.2

79.4

79.0

81.1

77.8

Share of population commuting internationally (%)

n.a.

0.056

0.008

0.037

0.005

0.008

0.003

0.018

Total exports (millions EUR)

162 006

15 345

25 091

11 397

34 773

44 694

53 364

22 036

Export (% of GDP)

0.48

0.68

0.70

0.45

0.26

n.a.

0.61

0.62

Employment % industrial (2009)

21.9

31.7

16.5

26.9

16.5

10.8

19.3

20.2

GDP growth (2004-08) (%)

n.a.

4.8

5.6

5.0

2.7

n.a.

4.7

4.3

EU Structural Funds, allocations per million inhabitants

n.a.

150

117

277

149

n.a.

119

135

Notes: Regional definitions used here often cover larger sub-regions than are actually covered by the TTR-ELAt. The shaded column is a region that is not actively involved in the TTR-ELAt policy efforts.

Source: TTR-ELAt (2013), “Background report to OECD study cross-border regional innovation policies”, March using data from Eurostat and UNU-MERIT, November 2012.

Table 9.3. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for cross-border innovation policy:

The TTR-ELAt

Strengths/assets

Weakness/barriers

  • - Network of well-connected cities and regions of 8 million inhabitants at the heart of Europe
  • - Significant innovation and research assets and strong innovation performance throughout the area
  • - Similarities in areas of technology specialisation as well as opportunities for complementary expertise
  • - Large share of the workforce with skilled human capital
  • - Presence of leading multinational firms and research centres favouring cross-border S&T flows and open innovation practices (i.e. Philips, Imec)
  • - Active collaboration among firms, the public sector and research institutions in different science parks and campuses (“triple helix” in action)
  • - Long history of public cross-border collaboration in the area
  • - Diverse set of cross-border initiatives with several good practice examples (i.e. Holst Center, TTC/GCS projects)
  • - Commitment of many partners to develop the cross-border area (including Dutch national authorities)
  • - Lack of a large and globally prominent city
  • - Relative peripherality of many cross-border constituent regions in their national political and economic contexts
  • - Unclear branding strategy with competing definitions for the cross-border area
  • - Insufficient awareness of potential across borders, especially for SMEs
  • - Complex multi-level governance structure of the 3 countries, 4 S&T regimes and 6 active partner regions
  • - Different degrees of institutional powers for innovation policy among constituent regions
  • - Weak institutionalisation and unbalanced political commitment among regions limiting policy momentum
  • - Limited funding for cross-border activities beyond European Territorial Co-operation (Interreg)
  • - Regulatory and language barriers hindering labour market flows and business contacts
  • - Lack of data about cross-border relations and flows

Opportunities

Threats

  • - Availability of government funding at higher levels for innovation in general
  • - Greater mainstreaming of cross-border dimension in policies of constituent regions and their national governments or flexibility for alignment (i.e. virtual pots)
  • - Developing a globally recognised cross-border area brand that improves external (and internal) visibility
  • - Job reductions in certain areas of production, such as by multinationals, due to increasing cost competitiveness of other locations
  • - Increasing difficulty in retaining and attracting high-skilled talent relative to other locations
  • - Funding sources render collaboration more difficult with relevant stakeholders near, but outside, the TTR-ELAt footprint
 
Source
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