During the third and last day of EURADA Summer Course 2019, very experienced representatives of Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) from Turkey, Spain and Romania held presentations on EU projects proposal preparation and on successful tips for project management.

Meltem YILMAZ – Middle Black Sea (OKA) Development Agency – started off by presenting the 26 RDAs in Turkey in general and her RDA in particular, delving into their structures, capacities and working modalities. OKA’s mission is to reduce social and economic disparities within the region through regional action plans to foster development in line with the designed S3 strategies. EU projects and EU instruments play an important role for the region, which is why OKA’s staff was extensively trained in EU project management. Meltem also explained the importance of being involved in European networks such as EURADA as these structures make it possible to access to more EU funds. Concretely, Meltem described benefits for cities, enterprises and social organisations in the region. To conclude Meltem reminded to the participants that EU events such as the EURADA Summer Course 2019 are excellent forums to get to know, exchange with and develop ideas with peers from RDAs in Europe and beyond.

Silvia MESTRES – ACCIÓ Catalonia – has a key position in one of the key RDAs in Europe: ACCIÓ Catalonia. As Head of EU Projects, Silvia shared her expertise and vast knowledge in EU projects with the participants of the EURADA Summer Course 2019. Silvia presented ACCIÓ showing to the participants the impressive project portfolio this RDA manages and the concrete impact on companies in Catalonia.

Bogdan CHELARIU works as Brussels Office Coordinator of the – ADR Nord East RDA. This role is very relevant to link Romanian territories’ social and economic stakeholders with the EU opportunities and actors. Bogdan, briefly gave an overview of his vision for ADR Nord East as territorial agent to shake up energies in the region.

Bogdan and Silvia then jointly moderated a dynamic exercise with the participants of the Summer Course. They dealt with cultural awareness, barriers to communication, managerial and organisational aspects of the life in Brussels. The exercise made it easier to reflect about the core issues of the session in a critical way. Bogdan underlined the role of individuals, networks and communities while developing EU projects. He shared professional and personal experiences and put it simply: “problems in life are not solved by solutions, but by other people”. Silvia elaborated on real challenges of EU project. What you stated in the project proposal has to correspond to the deliveries in the project lifetime. Project execution and project management need to be coherently coordinated and performed by all the project consortium’s members. Silvia also made a point in ensuring a smooth and effective communication with project partners: “take nothing for granted” so Silvia. Other required features to run projects are: reactiveness and proactiveness as various problems in the project implementation may occur.

Featuring the future of Technological Innovation and Smart Specialisation Strategy, Bruno LINDORFER spoke about the progress and development of Upper Austria and the lessons we can take from this experience. Bruno is a former CTO of Siemens and CEO of Business Upper Austria, a Regional Development Agency in northern Austria. Every region has several strengths, but it is also important to identify specific areas where regions truly shine. Some regions have strengths in either Research and Development or Enterprise while some regions have strengths in both, hence the term “Double Strength Fields”. According to Bruno, small countries like Austria should focus on intelligent niches and the smart specialisation strategy helps with that. In the case of Austria some examples where they have double strengths are in the fields of Alternative Energy, E-Mobility, and Electrical Energy Storage. He also touched on cluster partners mentioning 10 clusters in upper Austria, most in the manufacturing and metals industry.

EURADA Summer Course 2019 had the great honour to welcome a high-level official of the European Commission as speaker: Agnes MONFRET – Head of Communication Unit of DG REGIO. Ms. Monfret warmly greeted the participants and delved into the need to develop an effective communication for EU projects as well as presented various EC opportunities for RDAs and organisations to share the project results such as the REGIOSTARS. The REGIOSTARS are Europe’s awards for the most innovative, regional projects and cover various categories: – Promoting digital transformation; – Connecting green, blue and grey; – Combatting inequalities and poverty; – Building climate-resilient cities; – Modernising health services; – Public Choice Award. Ms. Monfret strongly underlined the importance to develop a convincing story while developing communication and dissemination strategies for EU projects. Project officers should be proud of their projects: they are indeed the best ambassadors for this task. Ms. Monfret concluded by addressing the participants and their activities during EU projects: “What you do matters, it is meaningful and worth-sharing”.

EURADA Director Esteban PELAYO closed the Summer Course drawing the conclusions and presenting the lessons learnt. Esteban summed up the 3 days of the summer course: we need to think about our territories as intertwined ecosystems with actors which need to open up, act both locally and globally, EU projects help us share expertise from diverse individuals and organisations. Esteban thanked the speakers representing diverse generations, domains, and policy fields. Diversity always contributes to shake up energies. To conclude, Esteban thanked all participants for the willingness to challenge, learn and grow professionally.

The EURADA Summer Course 2019 would not have been possible without the participants who consistently came during the past three days. They eagerly wanted to hear and learn about the experiences of former CEOs and directors of development agencies, specific calls and opportunities of interest, and different ways of managing development agencies. The participation and engagement of participants, especially during the afternoon activities, reinforced what they have learned during the morning sessions. We hope the course has contributed to their understanding of how project proposals work. EURADA is a community of RDAs constantly growing and open to new members, partners and associates: just pass by our office!