Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Covid-19 crisis boosting innovation in Mediterranean

on Tuesday, January 26th 2021 à 15:29 | Read 626 times

Mediterranean countries have mobilized their innovation skills to find solutions to the economic fallout from Covid-19, skills that will help them adapt to the post Covid world. Version française

Innovation at the heart of post-covid recovery (photo : Parcours Industrie 4.0 - Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur)
Innovation at the heart of post-covid recovery (photo : Parcours Industrie 4.0 - Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur)
The first days of the Covid-19 pandemic showed what can be achieved in Mediterranean countries when we put resources into solving real problems and challenges,” says Àurea Rodriguez, director of the Business Innovation Unit at the Catalan Agency for Business Competitiveness ACCIO. Her claim is backed up by Emmanuel Noutary, general delegate of the Anima Investment Network, who adds, “The Covid-19 pandemic has tested the agility of these regions. It has put public sector stakeholders at the centre of things, with the urgent need to help small businesses, support jobs and provide a safety net for the least well-off.”

One third of regional businesses we surveyed reported difficulties with supplies and a quarter had transport problems. Relocating value chains has thus become a major issue once more for the economy’s stakeholders,” points out Jean-François Royer, managing director of risingSUD. The Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region’s economic development agency has been involved in setting up a regional recovery plan that provides businesses with three new schemes: the SUD Relocation Pack (economic intelligence support to find new local partners), the Industrial Recovery and Equity Fund (€60M investment in new industrial sectors) and the Parcours SUD Industrie 4.0 scheme (support and financing for modernizing industrial companies).

“Mediterranean innovation stakeholders are capable of lifting their countries out of the crisis.”

As soon as the first lockdown was declared in Tunisia in March, the FIPA “set up a crisis unit to protect the business activities and exports of foreign entities,” reminds Zied Lahbib, sales director for Tunisia’s Foreign Investment Promotion Agency.
The restructuring carried out in Catalonia probably stems more from the value chains’ vulnerability than from offshoring. We have learned lessons from it,” says Àurea Rodriguez. Since then, the ACCIO has been relying on its main assets in the fields of research and innovation to attract new business. “Our region has a very rich innovation ecosystem with established and emerging value chains that we need to reinforce,” underlines Xavier Vilalta, head of smart strategy at the ACCIO.

Proximity with European countries, a young and relatively well-educated population, innovation and competitiveness are among the main assets the Southern Mediterranean can call into play for its post-Covid positioning. “The Mediterranean innovation stakeholders are capable of lifting their countries out of the crisis by highlighting their agility and creativity and the resilience shown at the height of the crisis. In the end, it will be the most innovation-rich sectors such as the pharmaceutical industry, high added-value niche sectors in agribusiness, renewable energies, intelligent textiles and digital sectors (fintech, software development, e-health etc.) that have best weathered the crisis,” points out Zied Lahbib.

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