Participants were welcomed anew for the 2nd day of our summer course by EURADA Director Esteban Pelayo as he introduced specific calls and opportunities which may be interesting to participants and development agencies. Esteban gave participants a general overview of the EU Commission programmes such as Horizon 2020, Cosme, etc. and highlighted the Cohesion Funds and Industrial Leadership as it aims to involve more development agencies. “Peer learning for Innovation agencies— why should we focus on this? This call supports innovation in companies and can involve small agencies as it is easy to handle, manage, and organize.” Explained EURADA Director, Esteban, as he listed the different calls of the Commission geared toward SME growth and development. “Development agencies could have a role in these calls because we are able to manage projects and policies which involve stakeholders in order to improve our regions” so Esteban.Furthermore, Esteban highlighted practical tips on services EURADA can provide for participants and RDAs. E.g. networking, which is an important way to gather contacts and can achieved by participating to our summer course and similar events-such as EURADA brokerage event which will be held in January 2020.
Janos Schmied along with his colleague Isoline Roger Dalbert both of the EU Commission – DG GROW presented the overall picture and calls of relevance related to INNOSUP, a programme geared towards supporting SMEs growth by finding the best possible support actions. Four different INNOSUP actions part of the work programme such as INNOSUP 05 – Peer Learning action, INNOSUP 02- Innovation associates, INNOSUP 01- Cluster facilitated projects for new value chains, and the Pan-European advanced manufacturing assistance and training for SMEs were specifically chosen for their promising contribution to RDAs and SMEs. For instance, peer learning of innovation agencies allows partners to come up with their own ideas, given the goal of exchanging knowledge with at least three different RDAs. They then come up with certain conclusions which can really change their current service offering and implement new measures, therefore finishing with clear recommendations on the different activities which these partners and different agencies worked on. Innovation associates, while it does not directly target RDAs, may be useful for SMEs and enterprises present in the scope of a development agency of a region. Here, the SME is at the centre of the action, realizing that SMEs with brilliant ideas need a skilled researcher to develop these ideas further. These researchers, gathered from all over the world are invited to help the selected SME develop an idea to maturation and fruition. A new project which is a successor of the COSME 2017-2018 pilot was introduced during the Summer Course, namely the Pan-European advanced manufacturing assistance and training for SMEs. With the deadline still for December 2020, this project has the goal of acquiring cross-border contacts to reinforce competitiveness of manufacturing SMEs.
Marc Pattinson of INNO Group / Interreg, provided insight into the policy learning platform of Interreg Europe which is a series of programs which offers opportunities for regional and local public authorities across Europe to share ideas and experience on public policy in practice. His interactive presentation elaborated on what the policy learning platform is and the type of activities it delivers. What type of resources and opportunities exist in the policy learning platform? Marc answered to that: knowledge sharing, expert support, and a community of good practices are examples of these. Also, “Europe is about learning, sharing—and Interreg Europe can play an important role in bringing countries together through involving regions and its managing authorities,” expressed Marc during his presentation.
Research results must sometimes be exploited to its full extent so that the hard work one puts into a research can be worth it. This was best explained by Giovanni Zazzerini, Secretary General of the International Network of SMEs or INSME. “Most research projects are able to foster international cooperation and foster new applied research activities but many of them fail to further develop the results they come up with“ this way Giovanni laid out a couple of tips to commercialize results to get the best out of its value and the possible innovative solutions that come with it. “Innovation is the commercialization of invention” Giovanni added. It is the process where an idea is commercialized, considering the societal impact it can bring—something which the European Commission is trying to capitalize on.
Andreas Pauer of ECORYS, an international company providing research, consultancy and management services introduced participants to Regional Co-operation Networks for Industrial Modernisation Initiative (ReConfirm). Admitting it is quite a difficult project to explain, he spoke about what it is, its ambitions, and how it is in action. ReConfirm is an EU funded project designed specifically to assist European regions and industrial stakeholders in implementing their action plan under the Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation. There are several steps in the project all put in place with the goal of supporting growth and innovation of priority areas in regions. Given the project’s lifespan or 2+2 years, it is important to keep moving and advancing into more concrete investment projects.
The European Innovation Council, part of the Industrial Leadership of H2020’s last calls Framework Programme, will become the pillar of new market-creating innovation platform. This program related to support for SMEs and innovation in Horizon 2020 was elaborated on by Marina Martinez of the Spanish liaison office for Science and Technology under the Centre for Technology and Industrial Development (SOST-CDTI). She highlighted that we must use the current tools we have, re-defining, grouping, and even mixing them to better utilize the services they offer to go further in terms of innovation. She also detailed the technicalities that go in a proposal from its inception to its evaluation in Brussels. Her valuable tips regarding the important aspects of a proposal, placing importance on an idea’s impact to society, helped participants see projects from a different perspective.
Rafael Escamilla of FORO ADR, an association of development agencies in Spain, helps participants gain an idea of the development of regional agencies in Spain and Mediterranean countries and their relation to Latin American countries. Mentioning how regions are the real actors for the strategy of development in a country, they are responsible in assisting innovation for health, education, and technology. He detailed the activities of his association ranging from innovation management to international cooperation. The establishment of a governance code of RDAs in Spain was highlighted as a main priority of the organization. About 10 years now, FORO ADR has been establishing a framework of cooperation with Latin America for the promotion of development agencies in the different countries of the region. For Spanish RDAs, this is a particular field of interest as this could benefit both parties in terms of networking and marketing.
Adding value to the previous speaker’s points, Tamas Gyulai of MIÉNK Cluster, a development concept for positioning Hungarian construction companies in the domestic and Central European region, compared the West Region in Romania as somewhat similar to the structure of Spanish development agencies and the good practices they share. He returned to the concept of Smart Specialisation and how this methodology or platform contributes to the development and digitalization of regions. As an example, the region of west Romania used the platform to identify potential in different economic sectors like Automotive, Agro-food, and Construction which needs well planned intervention in order to be exploited.
The afternoon activities then challenged participants to share what they learned from the morning and afternoon speakers through analysing the milestones of a project proposal related to the INNOSUP call for peer learning for innovation agencies. Participants worked on a mock proposal ad hoc prepared by the staff of EURADA with small-budget and limited scope, yet not less challenging than other EU programmes.
We were amazed by the level of attention and dedication showed by the participants during the afternoon session and look forward to working with them in the context of real project proposals!