15 May 2021 - 15 Jul 2021

Innovation ecosystems and start-ups in the Mediterranean as a means of recovering from the Covid-19 crisis

The Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) aims to promote local democracy, multi-level governance and peer-to-peer cooperation around the three shores of the Mediterranean. As set out in the Action Plan 2020-2022, it will focus its work on the strategic priorities of (i) sustainable economic development; (ii) climate action in the Mediterranean and (iii) women's empowerment.

The topic of innovation ecosystems and start-ups in the Mediterranean as a means of recovering from the COVID-19 crisis is linked to the first priority: sustainable economic development. Consequently, the elaboration of a report on innovation ecosystems and startups in the Mediterranean region will contribute to ARLEM's work on economic growth and social development in the Southern Mediterranean partner countries and the whole area.

Innovation ecosystems and start-ups can create job opportunities and, increasingly, spur innovation. Unfortunately, they are often prevented from reaching their full potential. As mentioned in the ARLEM report on youth entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean (adopted 2019), the business environment in the region is not conducive to the establishment of new start-ups by young entrepreneurs. Young people, especially young women, lack knowledge about business start-ups, they lack support in the form of information and advisory services, they lack collateral assets making access to finance difficult and there is a lack of supported premises where they can launch and nurture their new business start-ups. Nevertheless, numerous projects have been introduced and co-funded by the EU to tackle these difficulties and gaps, such as "The Next Society", SEMED platform and SwitchMed initiative.

The CoR has recently adopted an opinion on A new European Research Area (ERA) for research and innovation. The CoR supports the introduction of the "ERA hub" as an opportunity to give institutional recognition and a tangible form to the concept of regional ecosystems and innovation hubs.

In the abovementioned context, the study CASE is working on consists of the following components focusing on the situation in the Mediterranean partner countries:

  • Identification of the existing innovation strategies in the Mediterranean region (case study),
  • Identification of the main obstacles and challenges – based on academic research and backed by evidence – regarding the creation and development of the innovation strategies, ecosystems and start-ups and solutions, in particular, those to which LRAs can contribute,
  • Policy recommendations to LRAs linked to the main challenges identified and how the local and regional level can contribute to and be specifically supported in fostering the development of innovation ecosystems and start-ups,
  • List all the non-financial possibilities, from the EU or others, available to LRAs from the South Mediterranean partner countries that would allow them to support and develop projects related to the enhancement of the innovation ecosystems and start-ups.

The final recommendations in the study will aim at the following countries that are ARLEM members as well as their cooperation with EU partners: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia  Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Libya which has observer status within ARLEM.


Sponsor: The European Committee of the Regions

Partner: IMED