Last Monday 25th of November our colleagues Alexandre Arcos and Estefanía López attended, along with Rui Barroso (member of the Executive Committee of EURADA), the A robust innovation ecosystem for the future of Europe workshop, an event organised by DG RTD with the collaboration of EURADA, ERRIN (the European Regions Research & Innovation Network) and SERN (the Startup Europe Regions Network). This workshop was aimed at regional development professionals and had the purpose of providing the EU Commission with practical information about the problems, bottlenecks and challenges that regional authorities have been facing in the construction of their own innovation ecosystems, and how their needs could be solved by EU funds, since Innovation Ecosystems is a specific part of Pillar III of the Horizon Europe proposal, with a proposed budget of 500 million €, that aims to inter-connect regional and national innovation actors at EU level by supporting joint transnational and inter-regional innovation programmes by the EU Member States, regions and Associated Countries”.

The workshop was opened with two brief speeches by Fabienne Gautier and Isidro Laso from the EC. Afterwards, the participants were split up in several working groups through which they discussed which are the main challenges, pressing needs, priorities and bottlenecks identified in relation to the Innovation Ecosystems in EU regions. Some of the ideas that were repeated the most during the debates were: the lack of private-public cooperation; the lack of regulation on disruptive innovation; the different cultures across EU; the maturity differences among regional innovation ecosystems, or the need to improve the quality of public procurement. After this first round of working groups, took place another one, but this time attendants had to answer the following question: What support and concrete actions regions need from “Innovation Ecosystems” programme – Horizon Europe? Some of the ideas for actions that were stressed by more than one group were: the need to have mentoring and training tools and actions; the creation of new EU-level markets for early-stage start-ups and SMEs; the provision of mapping, benchmarking and matchmaking tools for different maturity stages of innovation ecosystems, or the possibility to complement Horizon Europe funds with other EU programmes.

Finally, four members of EURADA had the opportunity to give a 7-minute presentation. Oana Bouraoui (president and co-founder of Romania IT), in representation of North-East Romania RDA, did the first pitch, in which she highlighted the importance that had for the development of her region the recognition of start-ups. Then, Nathalie Boulanger, Project Manager Regional Innovation Stategy for Smart Specialisation at DEV UP Centre Val de Loire, presented their lessons learnt during Beyond EDP project. The third speaker was Mario Čelan, director of SIMORA, who presented their regional incubator for gaming start-ups. The last presentation was given by Viorika Dishnica, R&I Officer at ASTER, and dealt with the success of the MATCHER project attracting international start-ups to Emilia Romagna.

The workshop accomplished its objective of collecting information about the difficulties regional development authorities have been experiencing in the process of shaping their regional innovation ecosystems, and was a success in terms of participation: it was planned for 40 people, but in the end 60 people attended. We hope future workshops for national innovation agencies, cities, universities… have such results and impact, and we look forward to the celebration of the final workshop on the 18th of February 2020