The rationale behind the “CeNTER – Community-led Networks for Territorial Innovation” Program is that regions are considered as engines of innovation through their communities and local networks, which should be fostered and stimulated. In many cases, innovation is concentrated in small niches in the territory and is the result of individual or small network initiatives (social niches) in various domains (tourism, health, ICT, etc.). These innovation activities are the outcomes of the spatial concentration of communities and citizens groups, who look for new tailored solutions that respond to the daily challenges that are imposed to them. From a policy perspective, these innovation initiatives are considered as one of the mechanisms that allow regions to better respond to the challenges that are posed to them. However, the impact of such innovative solutions on territorial development is still unknown.

Thus, the conceptual and analytical approach of this Program is focused on three main themes:
    1. Territory;
    2. Mediation and valorization; and
    3. Employment and quality of life.

The first level (territory) is focused on people, practices and resources, which means that the study to be conducted in this Program will contribute to the identification, characterization and systematization of a broader knowledge on regional innovation resources and practices. At the second level (mediation and valorization) the analysis will be developed in three (selected) vectors of innovative action: public policies, social innovation and digital mediation, which will be considered in the context of this proposal as “mediating platforms”. The third level (employment and quality of life) directs attention to the impacts of innovation on areas such as employment, health, tourism and quality of life.

The methodological approach that will allow to approach these dimensions (theoretical and analytical) will involve:
    1. Knowledge systematization;
    2. Mapping and sampling of specific innovative practices in the territory, with a special focus in the areas of tourism and health and well-being;
    3. Analysis of mediation tools and instruments and development of a territorial innovation model;
    4. Development and prototyping of a digital mediation platform in the fields of tourism, health and well-being;
    5. Development of evaluation and monitoring assessment tools.


The main aims of this Integrated Program is to contribute to research in the area of Territorial Innovation Systems by studying and analyzing the dynamics between the different regional actors (public institutions, enterprises and communities) involved in regional development, as well as to propose a new framework for assessing territorial innovation capacities at the regional level. As such, it addresses one of the seminal problems of regional development in lagging regions: the need to identify the policy tools that best promote the valorization of territorial endogenous resources, in order to promote employment and quality of life in the region.

In order to achieve this goal, this program aims to:
    ● Identify best practices and case studies of territorial innovation that potentially can be transferred to the Portuguese context, namely the Centro region;
Understand the role of communities and community networks in territorial innovation systems;
    ● Propose tools and initiatives to leverage community-led innovation strategies and foster collaborative activities and community involvement in innovation processes;
    ● Propose tools for assessing the impact of territorial innovation that will enable to understand the main differences in innovation performance within a geographical context at NUTS II and III levels.

Expected Outcomes

The main outcome of the Program will be the characterization and proposal of a new territorial innovation model nourished by community involvement and collaboration, taking advantage of the digital media potential. A digital mediation platform will be designed and validated in the Centro region with the support of an important regional partner of the IT sector industry (Altice Labs). The main outcome of the Program will be the characterization and proposal of a new territorial innovation model nourished by community involvement and collaboration, taking advantage of the digital media potential., which will provide a better understanding of innovation drivers and barriers to support better policies. The aim is to assist public policy makers and economic and third sector agents to contribute to the development objectives identified for this Region, taking into account this specific programming period of European funding.

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