Yesterday we hosted at the EURADA premises the final event of In4Wood project. Our colleague Tessa Anne opened it giving a speech about her familiar experience in the wood sector and the difficulty of being up-to-date with the last technological developments. Afterwards, Martin Huemer, from DG RTD, gave a keynote speech on the importance of the industrial sector for the European economy, the main megatrends impacting it (Demographics; Climate Change; Globalisation; Health, Inequality and Well-being…) and the Horizon Europe plans to tackle upcoming challenges. Once Mr Huemer finished, Gregorio Cañavate, International R&D Project Manager at CETEM, outlined the In4Wood project and moderated the five following presentations. Irene Burroni, Director of Centro Sperimentale del Mobile e dell’Arredamento, presented the results of the Work Package 1, and María Victoria Gómez, Researcher at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, presented the Work Packages 2 and 3. Ramón Pérez, Developer at Pristálica, talked about how they managed to disseminate In4Wood learning materials to the wooden sector through the platform. María Bueno, Professor at the Technical University of Cartagena, showed how they implemented the course. And, finally, Jonathan Ledger, Global TVET Specialist, gave a presentation on the accreditation of Innovative Training.

After the coffee break, we attended four more presentations by private sector stakeholders moderated by Stephen Sloan, Information Communication Technology Consultant at Ionology. First, Döndu Ünais Haktar, Head of HUGO BOSS Solutions at Izmir Operation HUGO BOSS, showed how her company is managing the process of digitisation. Then, David Lorenzo, Production Manager at Fama, a sofa producer, explained how they implemented new innovations such as 3D-printers, Radio Frequency Identification or Digital Production Management and came to be regarded as the most innovative company in Spain. After that, Peter Van Hoecke, CEO of Van Hoecke NV, presented his familiar company of furniture accessories and how they addressed the process of being ready to take advantage of the opportunities of the 4th Industrial Revolution and overcome its threads. Afterwards, Giulia Dentice, CEO of Dall’Albero Srl, stressed the importance of having been helped by the Lazio Region when establishing the company or including new technologies and processes in the production of natural and healthy food.

After this round of presentations, Christoph Matthias Reiss-Schmidt, Head of International Projects at Business Upper Austria, outlined the process his organisation is following to help companies from its region to digitise and meet customers’ needs. Lastly, Luigi Campitelli, Operations Director at Open Innovation Hubs-Lazio Innova, presented different examples of RDAs on food and beverage’s sector & I4.0.

In the afternoon continued the In4Wood Final Conference, opened by a brief presentation of Noelia Cantero , Business Manager at European Association of Regional and Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning (EARLALL), who moderated the next two presentations. DG EMPL and DG RTD officers gave an overview of funding mechanisms and programmes at the crossroads of research, training, education, innovation, development to gear up the Industry 4.0 challenge. Afterwards, the state of play of the future Horizon Europe for 2021-2027 was presented. Joao Santos‘, Deputy HoU at DG EMPL, presentation was particularly interesting: he talked about the new paradigm of teaching and learning in a rapidly changing world, the Centres of Vocational Excellence and the KA3 Specific call open to partners from outside E+ Programme countries: Support for “Platforms of Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE)”. Whereas Siv Jacobsen, Policy Officer at DG RTD, presented an overview of Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation investment programme for the period 2021-2027, its development, objectives and instruments.  

At 15:30, participants were split up in 3 groups according to different thematic blocks. They delved into the question “what has been done and what still needs to be done to fully exploit benefits of I4.0 at sectoral and cross-sectoral level.” The starting point was how the IN4WOOD experience can help industry, learning institutions and governments to address the future labour market needs. The first group was lead by Francisco José Melero, International R&D Project Manager at CETEM, and focused on I4.0 Skill Development (Erasmus+); Andrea Di Anselmo, Vice-President of META Group, conducted the second one, about R&I on I4.0 (Horizon 2020), and the third one had as leader Esteban Pelayo, Director of EURADA, and covered the topics of Peer Learning and Territorial Cooperation (Interreg/Innosoup).

Finally, Mr. Pelayo uttered a closing speech and invited two of the private sector stakeholders present at the Conference to summarise their view on the development of the event. Ms. Haktar stated that “human factor is the most crucial point of the I4.0 transformation.” The big question is how to develop long-term sustainable learning. Ms. Dentice, for her part, enjoyed the experience of working with peers and professionals of Regional Development Agencies. “The EU is neither US not China, but we aren’t also a developing country. It’s amazing to see how the different European regions and countries work together to achieve common goals”, were her closing words.

The In4Wood Final Conference would not have been possible without the participants who came to the event. They eagerly wanted to hear and learn about the experiences of former from members of the Academia, Regional Development Agencies or the corporate world. 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!