European regions with the highest levels of economic development produced 80 percent of patents in green and digital technologies. Thus, richer regions have more potential for developing future technologies and better prospects for further economic development. This disparity threatens internal cohesion between EU regions. At the same time, it provides an opportunity: there are plenty of options for cooperation between leading and lagging regions all over Europe to develop technologies by combining complementary capabilities.
Both sides would benefit: Already patent-rich regions can diversify and exploit new economic sectors. Regions with fewer patents can also diversify their economic activities and promote innovation to, ultimately, catch up on economic performance. For example, the economically lagging region of Andalucía, which is a hidden champion when it comes to green technology, exhibits additional potential to collaborate in developing virtual and augmented reality technology with economically leading regions in Germany and France. It also has potential with less economically developed regions in Portugal and Hungary, though it currently collaborates only with other Spanish regions.
There is substantial untapped potential in inter-regional collaboration when it comes to the development of twin transition technologies across European regions of varying economic advancement. For Europe, this means that the potential arising from cross-border technology cooperation can be used both to accelerate the dual transformation and to strengthen European cohesion simultaneously.
"Policies should aim to exploit this potential," says our economist and study co-author Thomas Schwab, "through the support of entrepreneurship, educational reforms, research capacity-building and institutional change, to ensure local opportunities are activated and obstacles are removed that prevent the mobility of resources to the development of new twin transition technologies."