The INTERREG Caribbean 2014-2020 Operational Program is part of the European Territorial Cooperation, and as such contributes to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy which aims to promote a harmonious development of the Caribbean space for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The OP will contribute to giving substance to the will of insertion of the French regions and collectivities of the Antilles and French Guiana in their geographical environment. It will enable them to fully play their role of “ambassadors of the European Union in the Atlantic Ocean”.
The territories of the Caribbean share common characteristics and common development issues, it is the foundations of cooperation. The Caribbean OP 2014-2020 strategy is structured around priority lines that correspond to these different development issues:
- The creation of wealth and jobs through the diversification and strengthening of the competitiveness of Caribbean economies;
- The development of transport networks (maritime and air) and the opening up of territories to improve their accessibility;
- Strengthening capacity for prevention and risk management;
- The protection of the environment and the mastery of the energetic transition;
- Strengthening human capital;
- Social inclusion, health and improvement of living conditions.
The challenge for the RECAVACA project, to which it seeks to find a solution, is the creation of wealth and jobs through the diversification and strengthening of the competitiveness of Caribbean economies.
The Caribbean economies, French ORs, European OCTs, US Overseas Territories or States, face very similar structural weaknesses, the first of which is a weak diversification of their economies.
This is characterized in particular by the predominant place of raw materials (often agricultural), produced in particular in a logic of exportation (bananas, cane, fruits, etc.) and in fact, by the vulnerability of the economies to the external shocks (fluctuation the course of raw materials, consequences of natural disasters, etc.). The industry occupies still a weak place and has mainly developed in the agri-food sector, which is historically the innovation sector. The different regions are engaged in diversification strategies for the economies, which rely in particular on their strong potential for valuing the natural heritage (valorization of natural resources in pharmacy, cosmetics or energy, for example).
The challenge of diversification of economies is therefore crucial for the Caribbean. This must be based in particular on strengthening the performance of the economic fabric, improving the competitiveness of companies, and adopting innovative approaches.
The RECAVACA project is financed under Axis 1 and 2 of the Program, whose objective is “To strengthen in an inclusive and sustainable way the competitiveness of Caribbean companies, creators of wealth and jobs”
Axes 1 and 2 of the program respond to the first development stakes in the Caribbean. The objective is to support the competitiveness of Caribbean SMEs by supporting their ability to grow in regional, national and international markets and to engage in innovation processes.
Indeed, innovation is an essential asset for the development of the competitiveness of Caribbean companies. Guadeloupe, Martinique, and French Guiana are showcases of European know-how and service export platforms in their respective areas in the fields of activity defined in their smart specialization strategy.
The extra-community Caribbean territories also benefit from natural assets and complementary know-how on issues shared on a regional scale (energy, biodiversity, agronomy, digital, materials, environmental services, health) that can serve from levers to cooperation in research and innovation to improve mutual knowledge, and develop / adapt new solutions to the specificities of the cooperation area.
These areas of intervention are based on specific objectives, which include “Strengthening the economic diversification of territories through the transfer of knowledge and the marketing of innovative products” (SO 1).
The expected result of this specific objective of the Program is the reinforcement of innovation approaches within Caribbean companies and the strengthening of the transfer of technologies between the world of research and private sectors. This will allow the development and commercialization of innovative solutions that meet the economic, environmental and societal challenges of the Caribbean, or even the creation of innovative companies.
The Program will therefore support, as a priority, regional cooperation actions that bring new products, new technologies and new services to the market, particularly in the areas of strategic activities as defined in the Regional Innovation Strategies. Smart Specialization Strategies (S3) as they will contribute to diversification efforts of island economies and value addition in the territories.
The actors of innovation have gradually been structured in the French regions of the program. The development of networks and clusters of companies in these regions in the fields of energy (Synergile), agriculture (Network of innovation and agricultural transfer), agribusiness (Agribusiness Region of Martinique) should allow today to support and coordinate cooperation actions with their Caribbean partners in important sectors, on renewable energy (equipment, energy storage) with CARILEC (Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation) or in agro-ecology including Cuba (Unica – University of Ciego de Avila “Maxima Gomez Baez”, IIHLD – Institute of Horticultural Research, Liliana Dimitrova, IIFT – Instituto de Investigaciones en Fruticultura Tropical or Fruit Research Institute tropical).
This integration of innovation in Caribbean companies will bring added value and greater competitiveness. It will enable Caribbean companies to better positionning themselves on the international market: the development of comparative advantages in traditional and emerging sectors is in particular a promising and realistic prospect. They are an essential lever for improving the performance of companies in the diversification sectors of regional economies. In relation to the smart specialization strategies of the French outermost regions, the sectors that are privileged can be the subject of specific attention in order to develop win-win exchanges and promote the transfer of knowledge and technologies from one territory to another.