Today Europe’s challenge is striving for effectiveness and efficiency in a globalised economy without forgetting its fundamental European values of solidarity and welfare. Innovation is a solution, since it is now well known that innovation is a central element of economic performance.
The geographic location of the islands regions and their functions as natural boundaries between Europe and third countries makes them strategic territories for the EU. Islands represent an area of around 110.000 km² and are home to about 14 million people. Their structural handicaps, such as scarce resources and a small-scale market, makes their “periphery economy” more fragile than the bigger and better connected “mainland economies”.
Taking into account these problems, the European Structural Funds encourage islands to adopt innovative technologies suited to their particularities. Developing in a sustainable way and integrating in the new information society economy without endangering their regional identity is a way of taking advantage of the islands’ potential.
In particular, the objectives of the Regional Programmes of Innovative Actions are to strengthen the regional knowledge and skills base in selected areas and to speed up exploitation of innovations. It is particularly important for the least-developed regions, such as, among others, the islands, that they have the chance to experiment in fields outside the norm of their structural funds programmes and develop greater co-operation and networking with more developed regions.
The "Islands of Innovation” presents the regional programmes of innovative actions of the “island regions”. The experiences of these regions provide an example to others of how regions, remote and with less favourable conditions, could thrive by promoting their “exclusive myth”.